I recently heard the aphorism: “You learn nothing when you speak. Only when you listen.”

This was paraphrased from a quote by the Dalai Lama:

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

I felt an immediate need to shake my head. Not because I don’t like to listen (I do). Nor do I disagree with learning through listening. And I don’t need to justify speaking more than I already do. But I do consider speaking as a vital way of learning, too. Here are some of the ways, speaking can be good for learning:

  • You bring a thought to life by speaking. The process of verbalising an idea can be quite informative.
  • When experimenting with a new idea, much in the vein of some 19th century literature, you create a thought experiment. This happens when you are trialling out a previously unexpressed thought.
  • You learn how your words “land” for those on the receiving end. In all the years of telling stories, I’ve seen how they impact others and then provoke the desire to tell other stories. “Stories beget other stories,” I like to say.
  • Every time you tell a story, it can teach you something in the way you decide to tell it. For example, I always like to change up the way I decide to weave a story. In the new way of telling, I may uncover something unexpected about myself.

Meanwhile, it is often said that

good communicators, when engaging in conversation, spend 70% of the time listening and 30% speaking. Click To Tweet

I think that the very best communicators even listen as they are speaking.

And, as a parting salvo:

Great listeners ask great questions. Click To Tweet

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