An exercise in listening

There is a simple exercise that I do when I am in the mood and an occasion presents: I ask people a question and then listen to what they answer.

For example I happen to ask “If you had one wish to ask from the President in order to make your country a bit better, what would you ask for?” Here are some answers to this question:

  • That there would be more health workers at school so that you don’t need to wait when you need help (10y, female, 2021-11-07)

  • That pupils were allowed to choose their teacher (10y, female, 2021-11-07)

  • That our country would become more environment-friendly (15y, male, 2021-11-07)

  • That he would take the reins and finally starts to govern this country. Not as what is currently happening at Parliament (male, 55y, 2021-11-13)

  • That he would give me one million euros without causing inflation (male, 60y, 2021-11-14)

  • That he would enforce the Covid restrictions (male, 10y, 2021-11-16)

The key point to keep in mind is to not even try to find a common answer. It is not always easy to resist the temptation of entering into a discussion.

Besides training my listening skills, this exercise also teaches me interesting things about humans.

Some rules I learned:

  • Ask open questions (because registering the answer to a multiple choice selection won’t develop you listening skills)

  • Don’t ask manipulating questions (e.g.)

  • Ask questions that actually interesting (e.g. “What is your preferred colour?” is not a very exciting question)

Some detailed reports: