“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”
Smart is great. Funny is better. Smart and funny….well, now I am hooked.
There we are in conversation, someone is talking and we experience the rush of an idea and maybe we start to interrupt and maybe we know better and wait, (and wait) until they finish, but we are mentally reviewing our idea, thought, wonderful contribution to the conversation. It’s probably interesting, possibly witty, and maybe it contributes to a forward movement in the conversation, but whatever it is, we both know that the curtain of waiting has descended and we have stopped listening.
There is so much public discourse! Too many people are talking who are only interested in what they have to say. Good speakers are even better listeners. A listening mind helps speakers. When you start planning your presentation, are you clearing out your own noise and listening for the kernel of clear thought? Are you listening for your audience and respecting the time they are giving you? And when you answer questions during Q&A, are you really listening to what is being asked or simply speaking to an idea that you prefer to “answer”?
So, it seems obvious; the opposite of talking is listening, but the reality is, for most of us it is in fact waiting… to talk. I will laugh with recognition every time I read this quote. It’s brilliant. Next time the curtain of waiting descends on you, pause, hold that thought, keep listening and see what happens. We may both be surprised.
Next: More Fran Lebowitz; a review of Martin Scorsese documentary, PUBLIC SPEAKING