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never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake

Napoleon Bonaparte

This famous quote is often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte and it took the greatest part of my life to finally get to understand the deep implications of the maxim:

  1. listen carefully
  2. listen very carefully
  3. give the speaker the chance to talk some more

Many books refers to it as active listening, but I would really you to focus on the word CAREFULLY.

It literally means full of care. It implies that your involvement in the conversation is definitely not passive. It is active, hence the active listening.

It is active because you are deeply interested in getting anything that your partner is saying, so to put yourself in the best spot ever to utter an intelligent reply.

Listen Carefully

This truly important when you care about your partner and you want to be emphatic and supportive, but it becomes paramount when your are talking with an opponent.

In that case you are probably defending your point of view, and your partner is working hard to make her point.

As long each of you is only busy defending your point, there is hardly going to be a winner or a loser. You guys are just stalling, and you can maybe win just by weary out the other guy.

This is very tiresome and inefficient. But the good news is that by listening carefully you can outwit your opponent by questioning on her own points.

Questions are Key

There are no ways you can convince me that the Earth is a big ball, when I’m steady on my idea that it’s flat and a big wall made of ice circle it to protect us. No way.

Mark Twain used to say: “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

But if you are smart enough to listen to me, listen deeply to my Flat Earth arguments, you may be able to ask something on the line: “why are shadows changing during the day?”

Questions will mine your opponent position on a subject using her own arguments against it. It’s like verbal jiu jitsu.

Be Careful!

By practicing active listening or careful listening you will most likely see immediate and unexpected results in the converstations you have.

People will likely stop arguing with you. Either will buy into your arguments, or they will simply stop defending theirs so much. Either way it will be easier for you.

Never abuse this super-power!

The point is to avoid useless and endless discussions, not just spread your own view on the world. If I think the Earth is flat, and I’m happy with it… so let be it!

Full Disclaimer: I think the Earth is a huge pinball - true story.