It’s a well documented and oft quoted fact that as God gave us ears and mouth in the ration He did, maybe there’s a clue in that as to how we should use them in practice. We listen in stereo and talk in mono, and yet the influence that that should play in our relationships is lost on us most of the time. And most of us would have a smile on our face as we remembered some individual who, to us, exemplifies that trait; someone garrulous who finds zipping it extremely hard to do.

Similarly, most of us will be able to remember at least one person, although usually not more than two or three, who maintained the ratio perfectly; someone in whose company we felt that we were listened to, that our words were valued. They were not rushing us to finish our sentence just so they could have their moments of glory; they listened intently and the really interesting aspect of their listening is that we knew they were. When someone displays that in our presence, we know they’re listening; it’s not something done for show and the genuine side of their character is evident. Sometimes, in a later discourse of our own, the remembrance of that comes back to us and we try to listen more fully in our own situation.

Whether or not we cultivate the 2:1 ratio is down to each of us; personally, as I age and are less likely to shoot my mouth off, I know it’s something worth working at, if only for the things that I now learn about people and situations. So take time in a conversation; don’t drive it constantly in whatever direction you think it ought to go and maybe, just maybe, it will take you somewhere twice as worthwhile.