It’s important to pitch an idea with confidence, and it’s just fine if your passion for something comes through when you talk. But don’t let the dialogue in your head turn you into a bad listener. Successful people know that vetting ideas and listening to feedback is a good way to make them better. The great stand-up comics perfect their routines by listening carefully to an audience in order to learn which lines get the laughs. We can do the same thing by carefully listening to our “audiences” and developing the habit of reevaluating and refining our position. What works? What doesn’t?


We’ve all had the dreadful experience of talking to people who listen only to formulate their rebuttal points. They aren’t there to learn — only to sabotage the efforts of others. In this age of social media, this is the equivalent of trolls who leave hateful comments on sites under an anonymous name. Don’t be that guy.

Sharing your ideas — discussing them, seeking alternate points of view, listing the pros and cons, poking them with a stick — is a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, this works if we not only speak with conviction, but listen as if we are getting instructions on how to defuse a bomb. The point of a consultation, pitch, or brainstorming session is not to “win” by having our idea adopted, but to “win” collectively, by taking the best course of action.

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Comments to: Speak Like You’re Right and Listen Like You’re Wrong
  • October 15, 2015

    I think this works for personal life too….very insightful – Yoda.

  • October 15, 2015

    The best short version of the above that I have heard is “be interested, not interesting” you will have a much more engagging conversation with someone if you follow that adage.


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