“12 Rules For Life” Series, Part 9

Here we are. I missed last week of the podcast to take a week with Jordyn before the baby gets here. It was great. Instead of a standard cast, Offie did an interview with his boss that I have yet to listen to, but I think ties in with the rule I read this week which is “Assume that the person you are listening to knows something that you don’t”. All of the rules in Dr. Peterson’s book could benefit the majority of the population, but this one I think in particular.

I think that may be a problem with A LOT of people. I know that for a long time and even sometimes now, it is for me. It’s something you can put on a lot of kids my age that came out of college somewhere and think that they know more or better than everyone else around them. Everyone hates people like that. It’s near impossible to have a real conversation with people like that, so that’s one reason right off the top that you may want to adopt this rule into your life.

I also see this rule kind of in two parts. One is exactly what the rule says, that you should assume you can learn something from everyone you talk to, but the second is slightly deeper and has to do with the WAY that people communicate. Part of this chapter is breaking down several different kinds of conversations that people have depending on their intent or what they look to gain from the conversation itself. Other than just being informative on how the mind works, this section reminded me of the all too common practice of not listening to what people are saying, but simply waiting for your turn to talk.

That is something we all do and it’s always wrong. It doesn’t seem that there is anything right about that if you are trying to have a productive and useful conversation. It’s rude to the person you are talking to and kind of wastes the time they took even talking. It deprives you of the possibility of really enjoying their story or possibly learning something useful, and it also shows that you CAN’T have a conversation and don’t listen which may stop that person from wanting to talk to you in the future and in turn hinders your ability to learn things from them in the future. That could be a bridge you don’t want to burn and you did it by just being a crappy listener.

Without having ever been to college outside of running start, I was one of those annoying college kids that everyone hates. At the risk of sounding like a douche, I am pretty smart. I’m no genius but I can hold my own. When I was younger and in school I was getting feedback on my schoolwork and having a really easy time with things like reading and writing and it partially fed to an ego in those realms. At 16 I was taking my first college classes in running start and decided I knew better than my first English Professor.

I was never into writing outlines; in school we were taught a three phase writing process of outline, rough draft, final draft, and at a certain point I stopped doing the outline. I was skilled enough that I didn’t need it in public school and could still write a great paper. The same was true for the papers I was assigned in running start both that we were to use the 3 phase writing process and I didn’t need all 3 to get an A. I was told that to get full credit I needed to do an outline and instead of just doing the outline as instructed because that was part of the assignment, I took lower grades on all of my papers in that class to try and prove some kind of point.

After receiving 5 B’s instead of A’s I still convinced myself I was getting the upper hand because my papers were good enough for an A but just wasn’t getting them. Obviously no level of arguing swayed my grades because I was told plainly that in order for me to receive full credit I would have to do an outline, but I didn’t listen. And that teacher knew something I didn’t, that it’s better to take the time and get the grade then die on a hill you don’t care about. I never started writing the outlines. It took until my job at Benik that I learned sometimes things just are how they are, and its not worth questioning but DEFINITELY  worth listening when someone tells you that. I talked about that with Dave and Colin when we talked about learning the idea of “trusting the wheel”.’

The second part I see of this is, like I said, more of a surface take but similar to the first one. If you assume the person you are talking to has nothing to offer you or isn’t going to say something you don’t know, you rob yourself of the opportunity to learn from that person and can make yourself look stupid at the same time. I remember one of the big political conversations Colin and I had in the beginning was after the congressional baseball shooting in June of 2017.

Colin and I have also discussed gun policy on the cast before and this conversation was similar, but slightly more heated. Coming from the right Colin defended gun rights to the end and coming from the left, all I could talk about was some kind of control over guns. I have NEVER been a person who doesn’t want citizens to have access to guns, but in our adolescent political stage Colin assumed that is what I meant when I was referring to gun control. Because I was wound up (imagine that), I came at Colin pretty twisted about having assumed that about me.

He had lots of good reasons to assume that I wanted to ban guns, I used to carry much more radical views about the government. But since we stopped listening to each other a few minutes into the conversation (again I think understandably) we stopped ourselves from being able to learn anything from one another, even where the other actually stood. That’s the reason it took us three or four tries at that SAME conversation for it to be productive and for us to not only understand each others point of view but to expand our own and consider other options.

I think, as I said before, that this is a problem a lot of people have, and that’s why it was so easy at the time and understandable to me now for us to close each other off, but to continue talking. So many people are having conversations just to make noise with their face and try and spread the knowledge they may or may not actually have. They don’t want to challenge their own ideas and the ideas of others, which is supposed to be the point of a civil discourse.

You have to have your ideas challenged to solidify your arguments against the holes people are able to poke in them. Not listening to what people have to say and not allowing your ideas to be challenged sets you into a path of perpetually seeking support for your own ideas, which is what leads people into believing a single person over a group of verified and vetted reporters. It’s what leads people into parroting ideas they can’t even explain and trying to blame other peoples for their problems and build walls to keep them out. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of qualities that the perfect person would have, but I am certain that being an incredible listener would be one. Talking is a vital part of life, but listening even more so, and when you are carrying out a conversation you should allow that person to challenge your ideas and in turn help you grow. You should always assume that the person you are listening to knows something that you don’t.

 

-Donavan Phillips