Knowledge Talks; Wisdom Listens

I wish I had heard these words of wisdom when our kids were in those pesky teen years. I tended to be one of those parents who offered guidance on a fairly regular basis. Our kids were patient with these outpourings of knowledge but they also got tired of the lengthy nature of them. Hence my nickname-preacher!

Then there is wisdom. I never knew this at the time but some of my best parenting came when I didn’t say a damn thing! Listening is an art that few people understand or practice with any regularity. Here is one reason why. Most people past the age of 40 (very arbitrary number!) have enough experiences that allow them to offer knowledge to others about how to solve a problem and/or give perspective on some of life’s more posing issues. Information or advise comes flowing out almost faster than people can form the words. The foremost thought of the advise giver is, “this person needs my help”. Ergo, off we go into the “lecture”, “preaching”, “advise giving”.

Take your average salesperson for instance. What do companies provide salespeople? Product knowledge and lots of it-features, benefits, advantages, reasons why prospects should buy. And what do so many salespeople do with that information? They give it!

Why? It is easier providing knowledge than listening to people talk about their issues or probing other people to determine why they do what they do, buy what they buy, decide how they decide. Wisdom is listening and asking respectful questions that ultimately lead to more information. Wisdom is offering neutral comments that practically beg the prospect, child, neighbor, boss, employee, spouse to explain more about whatever the issue is.

A friend of mine visited a psychologist for several sessions. He told me that the shrink made an awful lot of money asking just one question over and over and over. “How did that make you feel”? Try it. You’ll be shocked at the results.

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