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Our obsession with instant communication threatens to exclude the context in which our business and personal problems inescapably exist. And the imperative to express yourself and always be "getting your ideas out there" often glosses over the essential concerns that belong to the other person. Singular goals like increasing your online audience or to fundraise, fundraise, fundraise cannot be the measured success to which they aspire; they do not measure or seek to understand the complex conditions which preceded the present moment. Entrepreneur Joel Gascoigne recommends several tools to help you discover context before replying. 

What's the Big Idea?

Context is often the key to solving problems, whether they are business related or interpersonal. Here are some tips:

1. Give your undivided attention. Turn your phone over, sit on the edge of your seat, and lean forward into the conversation. It's a slog at first, but you'll start to train your listening muscle.

2. Realize you don't need to respond. Rather than being prepared to save the conversation from a moment of silence, taking a moment to contemplate an idea just shared is a sign of respect.

3. Ask thoughtful questions. Stating your opinion is fine but what good is it unless takes the context of the conversation into account? By asking questions you can guide the conversation rather than control it.

4. Be prepared to follow the conversation wherever it leads you. Once you've experienced the thrill of uncharted territory, you'll never go back to repeating your canned opinions again.

Read more at Fast Company

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