Rule 37. Be quick to listen, be quick to see, but be slow to speak.
This rule is drawn in the greater part from a passage in the book of James.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
-James 1:19-20 ESV
The rule is a broadened sense of the source. Applying the idea of attentive hearing, rather than rapid speech, to all areas of life.
Whether we are at work, at home, in the fields, we travel in our own little worlds. These worlds are formed with us at the center and everyone we come into contact with merely filling in the empty space. Such a view point tends to inattention, with a greater focus on what we plan to say when the other person stops talking than on what the other person is actually saying.
This is in many ways the rule of the new. Whenever we start a new job or new relationship, it is best to approach it with this rule as your guiding maxim. At the start of something new and unfamiliar we can easily get off on the wrong foot by putting it in our mouths. Instead of learning by watching and listening, we are more inclined to try to cover our ignorance with useless babbling.
Every February, MOSES holds its annual conference in La Crosse Wisconsin. There an assortment of farmers can be found, each and every one of them attending for various reasons. Most are there to learn, but some are there to do more talking than listening.
At the end of a session, when the speakers open the floor for questions or comments, there is always at least one know it all that feels the need to tell everyone what he thinks. Rarely does the person have anything useful to share, merely speaking to gain a piece of the spotlight. Again, we find the difference between those waiting to speak their mind compared to those present to learn.
Those attending the conference to learn are quieter, they occasionally ask a question to clarify, but avoid anything resembling a stump speech. They see the people they meet as opportunities to learn something new, rather than an audience waiting for them to speak.
When our focus is on how others think of us, or on what we want to say, it distracts from the important things around us. Admitting our ignorance and focusing on paying attention to what we’re learning is the only way to move forward in life.