Listen more than you decide
The richest guys I know all listen more than they talk.— Chris Sacca (@sacca) June 29, 2012
I was in a cab yesterday with my wife and the cab driver sneezed. After he sneezed, I participated in a custom I've done automatically for many many years.
I said, “bless you.”
The cab driver said, “ahh-choo.”
Did I hear that right?
He sneezed again. I said, “bless you.” He said, “ahh-choo.”
I found the exchange a funny reminder of how easy it is to misunderstand people and ideas. Was the cab driver saying the word “ahh-choo”. As in, maybe when he was learning English, someone taught him about this English phrase and custom of saying “bless you” after someone sneezes. And when someone sneezes they usually go, “ahh-choo.” The cab driver must have learned or remembered the order of the custom wrong and thinks “ahh-choo” is a word that he's supposed to utter when someone says “bless you” to him after he sneezes.
Of course, I could have the whole exchange mixed up. Maybe he was saying thank you and I didn't understand him. Maybe he was saying thank you in another language.
Whatever happened, it reminds me how easy it is to misinterpret even such a simple thing as a sneeze. Here's a custom that I take for granted. The words “bless you” come out of my mouth as if they are a reflex. But the two of us still somehow misunderstood each other, or one of us misunderstood a simple (and a little strange) English custom.
It's a reminder that if we can misinterpret something as simple as a sneeze, that we need to be very careful with the much bigger things we misinterpret about each other every day. If it's so easy to get the words someone is saying about something so customary, remember how easy it is to get the words wrong about an idea someone is trying to convey about a subject much more complex.
How often do we go through the day misunderstanding each other? The person with different ideas than our own. The person who offended us with something they said. Or the needs of the people around us.
It's a reminder that it's not just about listening more than you talk. It's about listening more than you decide on what the people around you are saying.
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