Knowledge Speaks, But Wisdom Listens

Knowledge Speaks Hendrix
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“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

This quote is widely attributed to Jimi Hendrix, one of the most influential electric guitarists of all time and is reproduced on many of the leading quotation websites. However while it does seem like the kind of thing he might have said, there appears not to be certain evidence that he said or wrote it. On the other hand, there is proof that Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a similar statement: “It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once wrote, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Knowledge is defined as the accumulation of facts while wisdom delves deeper and even doubting its accuracy. Wisdom investigates the important aspects of life, not just the superficial. While knowledge seeks to impart information, wisdom seeks to understand. In this sense, wisdom is more interested in listening than in speaking.

According to a study, people spend 70 to 80 percent of their waking hours in communication. 9% is spent on writing, 16% on reading, 30% on speaking, and 45% on listening. However, the study also confirmed that most people do not know how to listen well. Research shows that the average person listens at only about 25% efficiency.

An effective listener gets more information, gains other people’s trust, and knows how to handle conflicts better. Yet these people are rare because of the many distractions that hinder effective listening. Listening to an average speaker takes only 25% of brain capacity, leaving the 75% free to wander.

Despite the distractions, effective listening is still an acquirable skill, one that would set you above the rest. To quote Doug Larson: “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”

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