A Rule to Live By in Your Life

I was reading a question posed by someone on…well you guessed it, Quora. Here it is:

What are the top rules of your life?

Some people have some really good advice, and I’d highly recommend you check it out.

So that got me thinking, what is the top rule in my life? And I didn’t know how to answer that at first. I was trying to think, and I had a lot of them that were important to me, but ultimately I came to the conclusion of one answer:

Speak only to those who will listen to you, and not to those who will not.

Now, you might be thinking one of two things. First, you might be thinking, well, isn’t that just common sense? And yes, but it’s not as common as you’d think. And the second thing you might be thinking is, what the heck do I mean? And that is also a very valid point to make as well, and I’ll try to explain it the best I can, at least to the best understanding I have of it.

So, is this rule common sense? I can only hope it would be so for most people, but the problem is, most people don’t act in a way that it seems so.

Let me try to explain what I mean.

In a normal conversation between two people, it usually goes like this. Person A speaks to person B with the intent of telling person B why he or she is right, and if person B agrees with Person A, then person A has won. If person B does not agree with person A, Person B is will tell person A why they are wrong, and so on.

You see this in politics all the time.

And in this example, you might say, it seems as if they are listening to each other right?

But no, not really, they really aren’t.

And just think about it. In our day to conversations we never actually listen to what the other person is saying. Most of the time we are only trying to figure out what the other person has wrong about his or her beliefs, and when we do identify the places they’ve made a mistake, we seek to correct them. So all we’re really doing is telling other people why we are right.

We never actually learn anything.

So how do we actually listen? And it’s simple, but very hard to do in practice.

And why is that?

The reason why it is so hard is that, you have to learn how listen as if the person you’re speaking to knows something you don’t, but that’s the problem. You don’t know what you don’t know, and the other person might say ten things you don’t know, and only one of those things are useful, and it can be difficult to find that one useful thing. And sometimes we have to really challenge our own beliefs to be able to take what the other person is saying in a serious enough way so that we can now believe it.

To do this properly we ultimately have to be truthful with our self. Truthful in the sense that, we don’t know everything, but at least if we listen, we can learn what we don’t know.

So how does this relate to my rule I laid out? Speak only to those who will listen to you, and not to those who will not.

This is important because you are on a quest to become less stupid than you were previously the day before, and I say it that way because we don’t know anything really. And when you speak, you hope that, in the same way you are trying to take the person you’re speaking to with the seriousness they deserve, you hope that the other person will do the same for you. And this is important because when the other person isn’t actually listening to you they’re not helping you find the truth, and if they’re not helping you to find out what’s true, then, that’s not the people you should be speaking to.

Thanks for reading