Listening

I like to do a lot of listening.

I love people. Anything they think is cool, I think is cool. I love when people are passionate about things, especially when they’re willing to share that passion with me. One of my favorite things in the world is when someone “geeks out” about something at me. Especially if it’s something I don’t know anything about! There’s a certain kind of exuberance that only comes from sharing your weird, unusual or unique interest with someone who knows nothing about it. I like to give people the opportunity to experience that exuberance as much as possible.

And I’m legitimately interested! I’m not *just* listening in order to boost someone’s mood. I love learning new things, and I love those glimpses into the wide chasm that represents “everything you don’t know you don’t know.” It can be difficult, on your own, to really encounter the unexpected. Everything connects to everything else, so over the course of your day/week/life, you’re likely to start with thing A that you know, which connects to thing B which you sort of know, which connects to thing C which you know even less, and so on. But rarely are you thinking about thing A and then suddenly BAM, think W jumps in front of you and now you’re hearing about that! You can go on Wikipedia and click “random article” (and you should, sometimes!) but in my experience the best way to find all these cool pockets of new knowledge is just listen to people.

Everyone knows something you don’t. Everyone.

So I like to listen. Sometimes I eavesdrop (sorry). When I can, I like to get people to just talk at me about whatever thing they’re thinking about. It doesn’t always work; I’ve found that a lot of times people want to talk about the thing they’re passionate about with OTHER people who are already passionate about that thing. If two such people are talking, that’s usually why I try to eavesdrop – or we can just call it “paying attention.” I always learn a lot.

How do you encourage people to talk to you – I mean *really* talk to you, about their weirdest thoughts, coolest beliefs, most unusual opinions? What’s the best way to let them know that I really am interested, that I might debate but I’ll never judge, that I’ll hear you in the way you intend to be heard to the best of my ability? I want everyone in the world to know that there’s at least one other person out there that definitely wants to hear about that thing you saw, place you went, idea you had. I want a billion perspectives.

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