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Jordan Peterson: Conversation requires listening, not just talking
In '12 Rules For Life', Jordan Peterson shows why listening is the most important aspect of any conversation.
My education in journalism began with Bill Moyers. Watching his classic interview with Joseph Campbell—the transcript became Campbell’s posthumous bestseller, The Power of Myth—is as instructive as any college course. Moyers extensively studied the subject matter before chatting with the mythologist. Yet he also exhibited an essential quality of good conversation: listening.
Moyers is an exceptional example of good journalism. He prepared with dozens of questions, yet throughout the interview, he volleys based on Campbell’s remarks. Much of what passes for journalism today—e-mail interviews; straight Q&As with no diversion from the script; unprepared interviewers and their tell-tale sign: the first question is, “So tell me about yourself…”—is nothing more than a drive to fulfill our incessant need for content.
Campbell was a storyteller, as was Moyers, which made their discussion, and subsequent book, enjoyable and informative. As with journalism, much of what passes for a conversation today is nothing but monologuing. In his latest book, 12 Rules for Life, Canadian psychology professor and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson warns against this type of dialogue. Merely waiting for someone to finish a sentence to launch your own thoughts does not make for any sort of conversation at all.
Knowledge is key when you’re talking with someone else. Even banal subjects can morph into teaching moments. We organize our brains with conversation, Peterson notes, and not only by speaking. Listening is an art, which is why this particular rule is aptly titled, “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”
Peterson recommends approaching conversation as “a form of mutual exploration.” Such dialogue features a topic, one that is often complex and requires nuance to engage in. He continues,
Everyone participating is trying to solve a problem, instead of insisting on the a priori validity of their own positions. All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn. This kind of conversation constitutes active philosophy, the highest form of thought, and the best preparation for proper living.
Such advice likely sounds like a foreign language when contemplating social media. While technological connectivity is touted as an advancement of global culture, it also acts as a breeding ground for echo chambers. I’m uncertain how often I’ve experienced this with this column, readers commenting on the title without bothering to read the article, which often addresses their very critiques. Even online conversations can be educational, yet the ability to listen (i.e. read and contemplate before replying) seems even more foreign in this medium.
Peterson is a rare professor that has kept a clinical practice, which forces him to listen to others in two separate worlds. Many of his patients and students are likely not accustomed to being heard. Instead of rushing to judgment by offering immediate feedback, he must listen and think on his replies. Listening, he writes, is as challenging as thinking.
People think they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking. True thinking is rare—just like true listening. Thinking is listening to yourself. It’s difficult. To think, you have to be at least two people at the same time. Then you have to let those people disagree.
Each view, he continues, is an “avatar in a simulated world.” The key is to simulate multiple worlds. A strong thinker, like a strong listener—the two are essentially the same—imagines and articulates their worlds to one another. Yet too often we cling to a particular viewpoint. We might hear opposing viewpoints, from others or within ourselves, but we’re not actually listening.
This is dangerous. It creates unnecessary suffering. Whereas complex topics could be worked out with patience and an open mind, they instead remain mysterious. Each avatar refuses to listen to competing avatars. Competition is heightened; collaboration is not entertained. You never scratch the surface because no trust is built. You never have the chance to open your arms because they’re too busy shielding incoming blows.
Peterson advocates for listening without premature judgment. Conversations are rarely boring with deep listening. There is every opportunity to learn something you didn’t know. Even the conflict that ensues with opposing viewpoints is teachable: you sharpen your own viewpoint while recognizing that your philosophy isn’t the only one in the world.
Peterson extends this advice to venues traditionally thought of as monologues, like lecturing. A good lecturer talks “with and not at or even to his or her listeners.” There is no singular audience, but a collection of individuals that need to be engaged with. Creating a connection is the biggest hurdle in public speaking. Rarely is it made when the speaker is talking at their audience.
In regards to listening, Peterson is a popular victim. (He also struggles to take his own advice.) Peterson is an important voice speaking out against radical factions on the Left and Right, both of which are confident that only their viewpoints matter. This is not true confidence, however, but rather a mask for insecurity. It’s impossible to conclude that you’re right when your ideology is the only one you’ve weighed.
There’s a reason why podcasts are a such a popular medium. We love good conversations. We love great monologues that make us feel included. We love debates pushing cultures forward. In every situation, speakers aim to learn even while educating their audience. This requires listening to your inner, conflicting avatars as much as to those of others. Peterson sums this up in the chapter’s most succinct sentence:
You can be pretty smart if you can just shut up.
Derek Beres is the author of Whole Motion and creator of Clarity: Anxiety Reduction for Optimal Health. Based in Los Angeles, he is working on a new book about spiritual consumerism. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
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- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Humans are particularly prone to shiver when a group does or thinks the same thing at the same time.
A few years ago, I proposed that the feeling of cold in one's spine, while for example watching a film or listening to music, corresponds to an event when our vital need for cognition is satisfied.
Certain colors are globally linked to certain feelings, the study reveals.
- Color psychology is often used in marketing to alter your perception of products and services.
- Various studies and experiments across multiple years have given us more insight into the link between personality and color.
- The results of a new study spanning 6 continents (30 nations) shows universal correlations between colors and emotions around the globe.
The root of color psychology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e40cf62fa8922fcca6c57e2fcb215b6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OM4fXB23pCQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>There is a very likely chance you've even been "fooled" by color marketing in the past, or you've chosen one product over another subconsciously due to colors that were designed to influence your emotions.<br></p><p>Companies that want to be known for being dependable often use blue in their logos, for example (Dell, HP, IBM). Companies that want to be perceived as fun and exciting go for a splash of orange (Fanta, Nickelodeon, even Amazon). Green is associated with natural, peaceful emotions and is often used by companies like Whole Foods and Tropicana. </p><p><strong>Your favorite color says a lot about your personality. </strong></p><p>Various studies and experiments across multiple years (<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49595886_Personality_Traits_and_Colour_Preferences" target="_blank">2010</a>, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12087" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2014</a>, <a href="http://oaji.net/articles/2015/1170-1448038739.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015</a>, and more recently in <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824#modern-research-on-color-psychology" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019</a>) have given us more insight into the link between your personality and your favorite color.</p><p>Red, for example, is considered a bold color and is associated with feelings such as excitement, passion, anger, danger, energy, and love. The personality traits of this color might be someone who is bold, a little impulsive, and who loves adventure. </p><p>Orange, on the other hand, is considered representative of creativity, happiness, and freedom. The personality traits of this color can be fun, playful, cheerful, nurturing, and productive. Read more about color psychology and personalities <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/color-personality-psychology?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self">here</a>.</p>
Study reveals which colors best suit which emotions around the globe<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYzMTk5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc4OTg5OH0.bY-pu-MFNivdJLDJuBp9TBKrhwuy7hngUa1aIWxQMVw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="33fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1a5d7bb00dac94bd6201616789fb4882" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of color psychology how colors make us feel color emotions" />
Certain colors are globally ties to certain emotions, the study reveals.
Image by agsandrew on Shutterstock<p>In this particular survey, participants were asked to fill out an online questionnaire which involved assigning 20 emotions to 12 different color terms. They were also asked to specify the intensity with which they associated the color term with the emotion.</p><p><strong>Certain colors are globally linked to certain emotions, the study reveals.</strong></p><p>The results of this study showed a few definite correlations between colors and emotions throughout the globe. Red, for example, is the only color that is strongly associated with both negative (anger) and positive (love) feelings. Brown, on the other end of the spectrum, is the color that triggers the fewest emotions globally.<br></p><p>The color white is closely associated with sadness in China, while purple is what is closely associated with sadness in Greece. This can be traced back to the roots of each culture, with white being worn at funerals in China and dark purple being the Greek Orthodox Church's color of mourning. </p><p>Yellow is more associated with joy, specifically in countries that see less sunshine. Meanwhile, its association with joy is weaker in areas that have greater exposure to sunshine. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910150247.htm" target="_blank">According to Dr. Oberfeld-Twistel</a>, it is difficult to say exactly what the causes for global similarities and differences are. "There is a range of possible influencing factors: language, culture, religion, climate, the history of human development, the human perceptual system."</p>