The Art of Public Listening

Here’s a useful paradox: to get better at speaking, you need to be a good listener. This is the central idea underpinning this text, in turn inspired by a book on thought and action. Written in the 18th century, ‘The art of silence’ is still relevant today.

The author of the book, Father Dinouart, suggests there are three levels of wisdom, all of which are crucially important in the present day: being silent; speaking little and showing restraint; speaking a lot but neither critically nor excessively.

As I pointed out in the Spanish version of this text, originally published in the magazine Cinco Días, these days we are continuously assaulted by ever more and ever louder messages. Moreover, we then we then seem to feel compelled to speak non-stop, to penalize any breaks and even more so, condemn silences. The extreme opposite can also be a bad thing – some leaders are neurotically addicted to remaining silent when intervention would really be called for.

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