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“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” ~ Doug Larson
“I wish she would shut up,” I thought to myself. I was sitting in a cold, grey hotel conference room with about 20 new coworkers, one of whom loved loved loved the sound of her own voice. At first, I listened intently. But the longer she talked and the more she interrupted others, the more I tuned her out. I envisioned her standing alone in an empty room, shouting into a dark void. I envisioned her opening her mouth and no sound coming out, stomping her feet in frustration, her face flushed a sickly shade of red. I imagined moths and dust spewing from her lips as her eyes widened in shock and wonder. If a God did exist, I thought, he would have struck her mute.
Am I cruel for thinking this? Probably not. The more people talk, the less they seem to have to say, which is one of many reasons why the internet can be so goddamned awful. Anyone can say anything any time they please. There are influencers or content creators or whatever-you-want-to-call-thems’ who make a living by saying nothing much consistently and with gusto. They are stuck between having an engaged audience and being forced to come up with something interesting or profound or funny to say. I’ve been writing this blog for about three years now, posting twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays if you haven’t caught on yet), and sometimes I feel like I have nothing important to write about, either. Usually, when that feeling creeps beneath my shirt collar, I try to spin an interesting story out of something mundane, like a woman with short blonde hair and mauve lipstick who would simply not shut up. My not-so-profound realization was that few of us need practice talking and all of us could use some practice listening, myself included.
The woman I’m writing about could be anyone. Her lack of self-awareness about the overuse of her own voice is not especially unique. So many of us talk about everything and nothing, failing to notice when our listeners eyes glaze over. So many of us hemorrhage language, thinking we know more than we do. So many of us think we are right. In a recent podcast with Africa Brooke and his daughter Mikhaila, Jordan Peterson pinpointed exactly how stupid it is…