Don’t try to educate people who aren’t listening. The world is full of fools who believe they know everything, and besides, you could be wrong. Listen more than you talk, and you might hear something interesting. And you’ll be able to figure out if you’re listening to a fool, or not, if you’re listening, not talking.
Robert A. Heinlein – from The Notebook of Lazarus Long.
It took me a long time to really understand this one, in my gut and heart. Coupled with another of Heinlein’s pithy observations: “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity”, I spent most of my early life trying to explain to people what I thought was the truth, or the correct way, or the proper method…or a whole host of correct, right, and proper things.
What I’ve finally got around to figuring out is that the world is indeed full of stupid people and nearly all of them don’t want to be told anything. They think they’re as right as I do.
What I’ve also learned is that often they are right. There’s so many different ways of looking at and dealing with the world and they’re all correct for that person, in that place, at that time. Even if I think they’re dead wrong and can see how they’re going to screw themselves over in five minutes/two steps ahead, it doesn’t matter. That person needs to make that error right now, and for themselves. Hopefully they’ll learn from it (but sadly, some do not).
Speaking of “doesn’t matter” – it reminds me of a clip from the Roseanne show that I saw recently — it’s freakin’ hilarious (I’m still catching up with TV from the seventies and eighties as I didn’t have one. A TV, that is.)
Life has become considerably easier and contains far less stress and frustration now I’ve learned to leave people alone to think what they want (and find out for themselves).
The listening part…that one I’m still getting a handle on. I’m a lot better at listening than I used to be, but I have a long way to go!
What about you? What is your reaction when you come across a damned fool with a big mouth?