The perils of listening


When we are young, we start learning not only by watching, but also by listening. We listen to our mother, our father, our older sister or our older brother.

After all, what do we know?

And as we grow older, there always seems to be someone to listen to: Our preacher, our teacher, our doctor, our lawyer, our representative, our older colleague, our boss and so on. Nowadays we’re even advised to listen to someone else’s algorithm.

Don’t get me wrong, the ability to listen is an important one, but the danger is that having to listen all the time becomes imprinted in our minds as having to obey. We become conditioned.

Even though there is a big difference between “listen and learn” and “do as you’re told”, many listeners eventually turn into – often unhappy – followers.

Later on in life, well meant advice is often refused, because it is equated with yesterday’s unpopular rules.

To make things worse, unhappy followers want nothing more than – you probably guessed it – followers. They hate being subordinates, while at the same time wanting some for themselves. This is how command and control structures stay intact. Control freaks rely on organizational tools to preserve the status and by preserving the status, they safeguard their own standing.

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