Whether in the boardroom or the bedroom, the power of active listening is undeniable. By speaking less and truly engaging in active listening, you can unlock significant benefits in your professional interactions. But it doesn’t end there. When it’s your turn to contribute, using interrogative statements, not declarative ones, can transform your conversation from a nonversation to an effective, insightful, and productive exchange.

For instance, instead of dismissing your colleague’s ideas by listing why the idea might not work, try asking them about the thought process that led to their suggestion.

This simple shift to using interrogative statements can enhance your interpersonal relationships and make people more eager to engage with you.

In a world where time is a precious commodity, this is a significant testament to the power of effective communication.

People don’t give each other the gift of time anymore. And it is not just on a personal, humanistic individual level. People don’t give anything a chance anymore. Maybe a podcast episode, YouTube video, book, or speech caught your attention in the first 3 seconds, but after giving it another 10 seconds,13 seconds total, if it still doesn’t seem engaging, then —delete, swipe, or move onward to something more exciting and shinier.

As per my earlier example of the boardroom discussion, the same is true in the bedroom.

When our partner speaks to us, are we listening to them or just hearing them?

Most of the time, we barely hear them because we are distracted by thoughts in our own head. If this conversation happens to be one of conflict, we are probably somewhere in the past (possibly resentment) or in the future (planning our retaliation). If it is non-confrontational, we are often still considering what happened at the office or whether we remembered taking out the chicken for dinner tonight. In other words, we are not in the present moment.

As I mentioned, we perceive time as scarce, and when living in that reality, we cannot give anyone the grace of our time—our time to listen, our time to connect, and our time to understand what our colleague, friend, or family member might be saying.

One day, while I was rushing around doing errands (rushing because of my lack of perceived time), I was surprised when two different individuals, who seemed to be in their mid-70s, began randomly speaking to me while we stood side-by-side, picking out our produce in one occurrence and bedding plants in the other. Neither stranger made statements toward me; it was more of an ongoing back-and-forth dialogue. Internally, I admittingly thought, ‘Don’t these folks know I am in a rush? I don’t have all day.’ Later, it struck me that they are normal, and I am not.

The elderly know something that we have forgotten: the gift of time.

They are the outliers of our society who value connection more than material things. They place a high value on emotions, not things.

They didn’t just leave their house in the morning searching for petunias and pineapples; they were searching for emotional and spiritual value. What feeds my soul and heart, not just my stomach and window boxes?

With age comes wisdom. Let’s learn from these outliers rather than risk the disconnect from one another.