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Talk for 5 minutes, Listen for 10

Updated on May 11, 2009

Fact or Fiction?

In my experience, most fights originate from some kind of misunderstanding. Communication is an art, and its one we're always in the process of learning. The greatest linguists on the planet still have a lot to learn, as do we all.

This is why I advocate this rule: listen twice as much as you talk. You may have a lot to say, but you have to reign it in sometimes. The fact is, we all have opinions, and if our opinion clashes with that of someone else, then it's likely to lead to a fight. Now, heated discourse is all well and good, but it's important to know the difference between good fighting and bad fighting. This is true in structured debate especially, but should be remembered in everyday conversation as well.

Consider a boxing analogy: think of a boxer who fights by just charging in swinging like mad with everything he's got. They're fast, fierce and intimidating, but if they can't put away their opponent quickly, they're likely to lose steam pretty quickly. This is true of verbal boxing as well, and sadly many people still fight this way. It's all well and good to have your own view on things, but you can't expect to get anywhere if your own views are all you have to bring to the table.

Now consider the famous rope-a-dope technique: leaning back, blocking and dodging your opponent's blows, waiting for them to wear themselves out, then goinging in for a precise and devastating shot. This is the ideal way to debate as well. Making your own point isn't enough. You have to hear what your opponent has to say, and have a counter-point ready to throw back at them.

There can even be times when, shudder at the thought if you want, you might actually be wrong! I know, it's sickening to think of, but it's something you need to come to terms with. If someone you're talking to has a point or piece of evideance that completely and perfectly refutes your own point, concede the point. People who try to keep arguing after the argument is already lost are basically like boxers sticking out their chins so the uppercuts land more soundly. If you're proven wrong on a point, you need to accept it. Roll with the punches. Concede your original point, incorporate this new information into your argument, and try to come back with a new point to respond with.

You see the theme that keeps coming up, right? Winning isn't all about throwing the most or the strongest punches. You need to see your opponent's blows coming, dodge them as best you can, and look for openings to counter them. By taking this approach, you end up spending more time watching their moves than you do initiating your own. Technically, the time spend might not be 2 to 1, but you'll definitely be spending a lot more brain power on watching your opposition than on planning your next move.

This is true in casual conversation as well, not just argument. To converse effectively with someone, it's important to know what kinds of topics the two (or more) of you can relate best with. Getting your own word in is important, but you also need to know about the person you're talking to. You need to absorb the information they're giving you. Do that, and you'll be able to come up with better things to say in response. If the two of you aren't listening to each other, then it's not a conversation; it's just two people blathering on about themselves.

In closing, I'll say one last thing: especially when in an argument, try not to speak at the same time as the other person. If you're both talking at once, then neither of you is hearing the other, and you're basically wasting your breath. Stop and let them finish, or ask to interrupt if it's clear they're not going to finish up anytime soon. Once you've heard them say their piece, you'll be better equipped to make an effective response to them.

Communication is something we human beings like to think we're good at, being the only species that has a complex system of verbal communication. But to some degree, this has hampered us more than helped. Practically every other vertebrate on the planet Earth has the capacity to be with one mate for their entire lives, yet many of us feel doomed to failure when it comes to relationships. In the end, the only way to make things easier on ourselves is do our best to open the lines of communication. Don't let the complexity of human language keep you from saying what you need to, or more importantly, from hearing what everyone else wants you to hear.

And they're off!

Incidentally, this is the first hub I've done for the Hub Challenge. I hope you liked it, and wish me luck.


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    • Goodpal profile image

      Goodpal 4 years ago

      I am a firm believer that silence often speaks better than words. But using both words and silence for effective communication is a great skill beyond the reach of obsessive talkers!

      Great Hub!!

    • reggieTull profile image

      reggieTull 8 years ago from Virtual Space

      Thanks Dan for responding to the request. This was an excellent hub - I really liked the boxing anology - your words flowed. I am glad to see that you agree. I first heard it put this way from a consultant who came to talk to the company about teamwork, etc. etc. etc. I have tried to incorporate it more into my talk talk talk but it is difficult when things get charged up. As for monogamy - I think Ducks as well.

    • danmayerisgod profile image

      danmayerisgod 8 years ago from Scotia, NY

      They don't what? Have one mate their whole life? Well, I know at least a few do. I'm not an expert or anything, but penguins have the same mate their whole lives, don't they? Imagine, a penguin can do it better than you can.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      No they don't!! (you answer...)