imageThere is no shortage of communicators talking about the challenges attendant to listening.

Type effective listening into your search engine, and you won’t have to wait long for the evidence. In 1.8 seconds more than 1 million resources will be one click away. Tips, tricks, guidelines, best practices, secrets, insights, barriers, ten-step-programs, five keys, principles, systems — I stopped at page 3.

Admittedly, we’ve contributed to the noise. Here and here are a couple of examples…just in case you are in the mood.

It seems safe to assume we believe this topic is important. It’s also a good bet the cynics among us might suggest we’re not serious, since progress is nonexistent…or, at best, snails-pace-slow. Which leads to this musing . . .

Is Knowledge The Enemy?

Maybe the challenge lies in the fact that the more we know, the tougher it is to listen.

Certainly, the more I am convinced I am right about any given topic or issue, the less inclined I am to yield the floor, much less actually listen to someone that is dead wrong!

What if our vast resovoir of answers-at-the-ready actually makes it more difficult for us to connect? What irony.

Is it possible — at least some of the time — that the richest communication takes place when everyone involved has more questions than answers?

The Hypothesis

If the exercise is honest — meaning the objective is more about connecting and communicating than it is born of infatuation with the sound of my own voice — the quest to identify what it takes to connect may be the one thing that drives us to quiet and persistent listening.

In other words — asking the right questions may be more critical to communicating than knowing all the answers. Or, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, being right is often the booby-prize.

Could it be that the art of communication is not about having all the answers; but about having the rare insight to practice the discipline of intentional listening?