“Ask more questions, talk about yourself less.”
Famous Pop-rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are hardly the first to come up with such a concept, and yet those song lyrics have always stuck with me.
It brings me to an important question: What are you doing today to invest in the lives of those around you? We love to talk about ourselves and make it all about me. It is the human condition and it has been that way since the beginning of time. When Marie Antoinette — if she did indeed say it — said the infamous line, “Let them eat cake.” She revealed a complete disregard for the peasants and her poor understanding of the afflictions of the working-class citizens of France. She was too caught up in her own day-to-day luxury to even lend an ear.
Now, in the 21st century, we have learned the art of multitasking. We do it all, and yet, do we ever really listen?
We must stop this trend of tuning other people out if we want to be better neighbors, students, friends and coworkers, and even better Christians. One thing that can be done in an effort of self-improvement today is changing the mindset of why we listen. When we do listen, it is often out of an attempt to be polite instead of out of a genuine curiosity to learn what the other has to say. If we listen instead to learn, we may find ourselves investing more into the relationship, and achieving a greater understanding of the other person.
Sometimes becoming a better listener can be as simple as quieting your mind and being all-in in any given moment. If you are thinking about your homework due tomorrow or dinner or a million other things, you will never find yourself truly putting the time and work necessary to make a relationship thrive.
Lastly, ask more questions. This allows your conversation to be more open, reduces conflict and misunderstanding, and shows the person with whom you are conversing that you have a genuine desire to understand their words.
Asking better questions also has its benefits in the business world. Two journalists for the Harvard Business Review note: “Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. And it can mitigate business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards.”
So, when Macklemore asserts that we must ask more questions, and talk less about ourselves, he is really on to something. Those lyrics might just be the key to fixing our broken and breaking relationships and improving communication.