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telling and asking

November 30, 2022

There are two types of people in this world.

Ok, there are more than two, but two is easy.

So… there are two types: there are people who tell you all about what they think and how they feel; and there are people who are curious about what you think and how you feel.

In my experience, there are too many of the former and not enough of the latter. Too many people are compelled to broadcast their opinions, entice you with their thoughts, impress you with their ideas. Not enough want to suspend judgment, ask questions, and understand what other people are about.

We like having all the answers. We hate feeling like there’s something we don’t know.

This isn’t a critique as much as an observation backed by scientific evidence. Behavioral economics research tells us that we humans are quick to draw connections between things that aren’t connected, too comfortable reaching conclusions without evidence. If something sounds right, we assume it is, and we don’t question how we know for sure. Because uncertainty drives us nuts.

This is how the brain works.

Which is unfortunate. The more we go around thinking we’ve got it figured out, and the more we push onto other people all the knowledge we’re so sure about, the less we inquire. The less we learn. The less we grow. And the worse our decisions become. Because the type of person who talks more and asks less only rehashes the same information in their heads, over and over. They’re not considering new ways of thinking. They’re not learning amassing new knowledge. And given that good decisions stem from having rich information, these types of people are making poorer decisions.

Asking fewer questions will cause the quality of your life to suffer.

Your thoughts are worth sharing. What’s in your heart and mind matters. But… a little self-doubt goes a long way. So, ask. Ask and ask and ask. Be open. Be curious. Don’t lead with a lesson, lead with a question. If someone does something you don’t like, don’t tell them what you think; ask them what they were thinking. If someone does something you don’t understand, try to understand it before telling them how wrong they are. Don’t assume that because you think you’ve figured it out, you’ve figured it out.

Asking isn’t just about being polite or inquisitive for its own sake. Asking is a way to amass information necessary to make good decisions – the kinds of decisions that lead us to a better world.

This hard to do, and occasional failure is guaranteed, but if we all asked more and talked less, we could learn more from each other. We could become enriched and feel more connected. Which would be pretty cool.

But we all have to be in it together. I hope you’re in.

That is all.

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