February 16

“And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in a few words.” -Epictetus

Listening. The most forgotten and possibly the most important part of communication. Learning to listen is as important and as difficult as learning to speak or write effectively. It takes practice and discipline. But like every skill that is difficult to master and requires discipline to practice, listening has incredible benefits.

For starters, listening or rather not speaking gives us an opportunity to step back. allow others to say their piece and give us a chance to control our reactions. By listening better we end up speaking less which gives us more time to control our emotions and focus on the things we can control.

Listening also allows us to actually get to know and connect with the people in our lives. By understanding what is going on in their minds, and in their lives we can understand better what motivates them and why they do the things that they do. This allows us to keep in mind how they operate and gives us better perspective. Having better perspective is a good way to avoid being upset by the things which should not have upset us.

So today, as an exercise, let’s try to keep ourselves from speaking as much as possible. In every interaction let’s try to be sure the other person gets to say more than we do.

virtus fortis vocat

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