In what was fast becoming a meta-conversation, I found myself explaining to the (by the voice) older gentleman on the phone what he needed to tell another person they’d need to do to use a particular website.
I told him he would need to “create an account”, a term I was sure everyone would know. He asked me – genuinely – what that meant.
Have you ever been mid-conversation, and someone used a term you were not familiar with, and you just nodded along?
It’s a simple trap to fall into, sacrificing clarity of communication on the altar of appearing wise. But it does the person we talk to a disservice.
If you’re able to keep listening when you’ve decided that a key term in the conversation is unimportant, you’re a more capable listener than I.
When our modern definition of ignoramus is “someone who doesn’t know the thing I learned five minutes ago”, it’s hard to engage other people around us with humility about our own ignorance.
But it repays the investment. Not only to find the meaning of unfamiliar words, but to show the other person that we are serious about listening to them, and even learning from them.
Is there someone you want to listen to better? Why not tell them?