February 24

“If any conversation should arise among uninformed people about a subject you are knowledgeable about, it is best to remain silent. Otherwise, you may very well vomit up information that you have yet to digest.” – Epictetus

One of the hardest parts about being a social animal. Conversations. We are going to have to be a part of conversations and we are going to have to listen – really listen – to other people’s opinions. And sometimes those opinions are going to be about subjects we are interested in. Maybe subjects that we like to think that we are well versed in. Possibly even subjects that we are actually experts in. The end result is the same. It is always best to remain silent and to listen.

While it takes some getting used to and in the beginning is going to distract us from listening, a good exercise for us in these situations is to listen to the person’s perspective or interpretation of the subject. Then we should think about what the possible outcome of our interjection is going to be. Maybe it’s a little thing and the owner of the opinion isn’t all that invested and our interjection will be amusing and or informative. But more likely, this is something a person feels strongly about. Is putting our impression or partially formed opinion (all opinions are only partially formed) going to benefit the recipient enough to risk them choosing to be insulted or offended by our interjection. Most often the answer is; no.

It is better for us to listen and learn how other people interpret or see these subjects that we are interested in. Learn from them. Maybe we will find something to add to our knowledge base or perhaps we will recognize ways of presenting information in more effective ways.

All that and we will look attentive and kind and won’t look like argumentative or difficult people.

virtus fortis vocat

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