There’s an old poem that was originally meant to imply that “children should be seen and not heard.”  Though that analysis is an incorrect approach, one can apply the following words to so many situations.  This poem stood on the wall of my grandmother’s house for so long.  It’s another one of the items that has shaped me and my adoption of information and friends.

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

I believe strongly in the idea of listening before you speak.  Even when you feel that you know what the other person is thinking or feel you are right and need to tell them why, stop and listen.  Only when you fully understand the other person’s premises for debate can you finally engage.  Use the Socratic method.

Remember Mark Twain who said:

Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.