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Be Open To Be Changed illustration: in the top half, two people are in conversation; as one speaks, the other is only waiting their turn to tell their story. In the bottom half, the same two people are in conversation but this time, as one speaks the other simply listens - allowing their mind to remain open to what is being said. It's perhaps more rewarding to be involved in the second of these two conversations.

Be open to be changed

It's all too easy. Someone's talking with you and you make a connection to a story to share or a solution to give. From that point on it's so easy to switch off from what they're sharing with you and just be waiting for your moment to jump in and regale your story, or share your solution. You might have noticed it when it's happened to you — it didn't seem to matter what you said, they didn't really seem to take in what you were saying and why it was important, it just bounced off. It's not very satisfying.

The alternative is to really listen, perhaps to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard. It can be a little scary. You might not have an answer, and what you hear might challenge your beliefs or teach you something you didn't really want to learn — it might change you — and it requires effort. But it's surely a better way to relate to each other.

I don't get this right all the time, but I did at least become aware of it when learning improvisation with Dan Klein and the second rule of improv: be spontaneous.

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