Personal Practice: The Art of Asking and Listening

Imagine. You woke up this morning and instead of following Alice down the rabbit hole, you decide to hang out with Socrates. You know, the wise guy who taught people how to think for themselves by asking questions.

What you didn’t realise when you got out of bed this morning is that there’s something different about you today. Instead of the usual ‘telling people what to do and what to think’, you discover that you can only ask questions. And, when asking questions is inappropriate, the only alternative is to listen.

At first, you manage this new way of communicating for only 10 minutes. Gradually, you extend it to an hour.

What do you notice about the quality of conversations you’re having in comparison with your usual way of communicating? And what about the differences in the level of engagement you’re getting from those you usually interact with?

My grandmother used to say, “There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth.”

Ask questions. Listen lots. Help people answer their own questions and may be they’ll help answer yours.

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