Dear Kid,

You’ve probably heard that you have two ears and one mouth because you’re supposed to spend twice as much time listening as you do talking.

Even if it’s been around for a while, it’s excellent advice.

"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." - Ernest Hemingway“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

There are times when it’s entirely appropriate to allow any thoughts that wander into your head to spill out of your mouth without running through any brain-based reasoning. For example, talking to the Puppy is a fine time for unfiltered thought. Talking to people, however, generally requires a little more restraint.

Not everything you think is suitable for public conversation. You already know not to go out of your way to insult people or to give your “honest” opinion when tact might be a better option. But there are times for even more restraint.

Sometimes, we think we’re entertaining someone with a story, anecdote, or parable that will improve their life or at least amuse them. You’re not doing anything harmful and the listener will get to find out how well spoken and erudite you are. Genius!

Except the “listener” is actually composing a shopping list for the party they are hosting in a few days.

Not so impressive.

Asking a question and then really listening to the answer is generally a much straighter path to showing how smart you are. After all, you’re smart enough to listen to the person talking.

Love, Mom