How active Listening can help you find your muse
"KNOWLEDGE SPEAKS, BUT WISDOM LISTENS."
Being a good listener is a great way to hear your muse calling to you. By engaging in meaningful conversation and actually lending both your ears to what someone is saying, you will find your creative self stimulated with new ideas and inspirations.
Lend me your ears
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix
Being in a long term relationship has greatly improved my listening skills. I still probably have a long ways to go until I can be considered a full on “active listener”, but I have come to realize that you will get a more rewarding experience out of a conversation, if you actually listen, instead of only pretending to listen while letting your mind drift off somewhere else.
Through relentless coaching on behalf of my girlfriend, I have been broken of many of my bad inattentive habits including such things as:
- Making the last remark from the other person into a question and then repeating it back to them in order to make it look like I am engaging in the conversation. Ex: “You went to the movies?” “So you talked to your sister?”
- Saying thoughtful “Uh Huh’s” during a pause, to simply confirm the listener of my partial presence, as I play video games or read a book at the same time. Usually done over the phone.
- Making Eye Contact and looking real interested while really thinking about what I am about to eat for lunch.
These are bad habits that I have no doubt picked up through the years of working in the costumer service field, as well as simply being rather dimwitted (i.e. a typical male) individual.
As soon as I was cured of all these inattentive tendencies and started listening up, I soon found myself on a new path of purpose and productivity. Not only was I having more meaningful conversations at home, I also found myself doing a better job at work. Instead only pretending to listen to costumers while really thinking about lunch, I started to really listen to them and found out that I contained a wealth of very helpful information. By actively listening, I was able to target the costumer’s problems and show what they needed to do in order to solve it. This made happy costumers with promises to come back. This made business better and I wound up with a nice raise and the satisfaction of a job well done.
Whether you are listening to a lecture or talking to someone on the bus, being an active listener can be very rewarding. This is especially true when it comes to creativity. Listening to an opinion or idea of somebody else can help unlock your own ideas and opinions. Engaging in a discussion with someone else can help you see the world from a different perspective allowing you to better work out your creative problems. Instead of mentally shutting people out or delivering canned responses, try actually listening and engaging someone in a conversation and hear your muse calling to you through them.
For example, listening to what the man on the soap box is really saying instead of tuning him out as some crazy nut ranting about the end of the world, might allow you a glimpse into his world perspective and give you insight into a new creative direction. Or, if you find yourself talking sports with someone on the subway, instead of just agreeing on how great the local team is doing, talk with them and see if you can find out what drives their passion for the team. This can inspire you to think further about the game and its fans and end up giving you a whole new creative idea or business opportunity.