You don’t learn anything, when your lips are moving!
I spent the weekend with a very diverse group of fascinating people. People from different walks of life, different interests and hobbies, different ages and genders. As I was moving among these people having conversations about this or that it occurred to me several times just how interesting humans are.
We are all the same animal, we are all human beings and yet, we are all so different in our own ways. We look different and talk different, we have different senses of humor. Every body has their own story and experience, their own history that is unique to them. When you multiply that by 7.4 billion people it becomes pretty remarkable that so much diversity could exist within a single species…but it does.
While that may be obvious, it’s also easy to take for granted. When we are dealing with people we tend to be more concerned with how we are being perceived by them. We wonder what they are thinking about us. Many of us seldom seize the opportunity to listen and learn from the people around us.
It doesn’t matter who the person is or what their background. There is usually something that can be learned from everyone, if we aren’t being obsessed with ourselves. I learned things this weekend from tiny children. I discovered some amazing things from other people who are a third of my age. I made it a point to try and learn something from every person I encountered—even the ones who didn’t say much.
I listened to stories and asked questions and I came away a richer man for having taken that time. That’s why I’m talking about this today, because it is an important skill to develop as a man. The more we learn about other people, the better understanding we may have of ourselves. The more we learn about other people the better equipped we will be to navigate through a world that is full of them and the more skillful we will become in the areas of communication, understanding, and ultimately—being a better man.
I’m going to discuss a couple techniques to keep in mind as you go through the world. Simple techniques that will help you learn as much as you can from the people you encounter on your path.
The first thing I encourage you to do is to show a genuine interest in other people. without being nosey ask them about their self, their life, what they like and don’t like and things like that. Find something to compliment them about. People love to talk about their self and when someone else shows an interest in them it goes a long way toward that person being open to having a conversation.
The second thing is more of a rule than a technique. No…it’s more of a law, like the law of gravity. This law is that it’s almost impossible to learn anything when your lips are moving. That is the case because when you are talking, you aren’t listening, and if you aren’t listening you probably aren’t learning anything. Listening and paying attention are skills that must be learned and they are skills that can constantly be improved.
For many people in social situations they tend to talk out of nervousness, just to fill the space between them and another person with something other than silence. When they do that they are usually talking about themselves exclusively, which gives other people the impression that is the only thing you are interested in…yourself.
It’s amazing though, how quickly people will begin talking if you show a genuine interest in them, and that is when you start learning stuff.
You might be wondering how this could help you be a better man. The answer to that is very simply, it is another way of improving yourself. When you improve, when you learn, when you add knowledge and experience to your brain you are becoming better. You are becoming better because everything you learn will help you navigate through life more smoothly, as a more competent person.
I think one of our jobs as a man is to learn as much as we can about everything. It helps you make decisions better because you have more data for comparative analysis. The more you learn about other people, the better understanding you will have of yourself, and of your impact in the world. If you develop a habit of paying attention to people and things around you you will increase in wisdom, confidence, and social intelligence.
All of these things are really handy in a world with so many other people, each one of them a little different than you. There are so many interesting things to learn from our fellow human beings.
You just never know. Someone could share something with you, or tell you a story that could change your life for the better somehow. The thing is, you’ll never know unless you give them the opportunity.
Now head out into the world and remember that if your lips are moving you aren’t learning squat. Remember to listen, watch, and wonder at the things other people have to say. Show a genuine interest in others and not only will you learn more from them, you will also be more highly regarded by them as well. If you do these things you may find life more interesting, and you will also be a better man today than you were yesterday.
Hey don’t forget to check out my new book, Forging A Man, available right now on Amazon.