Want to get someone’s attention? Listen

Last week I experienced something rare. I did an interview with someone who listened far more than she spoke. It was all the more unusual since I was supposed to be the one asking the questions.

I left with the feeling that I had been talking with a very smart and thoughtful person. I also left feeling flattered that she cared about my opinions.

I brought up this experience while talking to my friend Kibum, who is in his first year at law school. He was bemoaning the state of affairs in his classes where over-eager “gunners” reliably raise their hands each day to ensure that the professors choose them to answer questions in front of the class. (Clearly, nothing has changed since my law school days.) Kibum, who is of Korean descent but was raised primarily in the US, believes that Americans are obsessed with hearing ourselves speak. In Asia, he explained, there is so much emphasis on being deferential to your elders, that even when you are older, you naturally take more of a listening position in the conversation when you meet someone new. Though he admits that the Korean approach does sometimes stifle people (and schools there are now emphasizing presentation skills and speaking up), he finds that Americans are so concerned with looking smart that they sometimes they don’t even properly respond to the flow of conversation.

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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One Response to “Want to get someone’s attention? Listen”

  1. Andrea Says:

    I’d agree with your friend’s sentiment. Listening is under-appreciated in graduate schools. I went to business school and it sounds like the law school experience. Listening not only makes the speaker feel better about the intelligence of the listener, it results in more productive comments and a better conversation.

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