Actually Listening, Not Waiting to Speak

I’ve recently become aware of how powerful listening is and how terrible I am at it. It’s shocking the number of times when I ”listen” but am really just waiting to speak.

When I have truly listened and held back from speaking or giving my 2c, the conversation is always more edifying and usually saves time as I don’t say something the other person would have said anyway.

I’m starting to think that developing my listening skills may be one of the most transformative actions I can take.

Researchers at Brown University just got a robot to do something as linguistically improbable as it is beautiful: After training to hand-write Japanese characters, the robot then turned around and started to copy words in a slew of other languages it’d never written before, including Hindi, Greek, and English, just by looking at examples of that handwriting. Not only that, it could do English in print and cursive. Oh, and then it copied a drawing of the Mona Lisa on its own for good measure. This Crafty Robot Can Write in Languages It’s Never Seen Before | WIRED

Curating Friction

One of the curious ideas I found in Atomic Habits is that often our environments have a greater impact on us than motivation or character.

For example, if you live in a country where there’s lots of cheap fast food, you’re more likely to be overweight than in a country where fast food is expensive and most people have more restricted diets.

There are exceptions, but you will be closes to your countries average (whatever that is).

But this isn’t just on the macro countrywide level, it equally applies to our micro environments such as the office and home. If your shelves are stocked with sweets and chocolate, then you probably won’t eat as healthy as when they are full with fruits and vegetables.

This is where curating friction comes in.

Friction is how easy or difficult an action is. If it’s easy to complete, it’s a low-friction activity. If it’s difficult to complete, then it’s a high-friction activity.

When we curate friction, we are adding or removing friction in areas of our lives to make certain actions easier or more difficult. Here’s some practical examples.
- Placing a paper notebook journal open to today’s date on your bedside table is reducing the friction to journal. - Packing your games console away after you play increases the friction of playing a “quick” game.
- Placing your scale at the end of the bed is a great way to reduce the friction of regularly weighing yourself.
- Uninstalling all the social media apps on your phone is increasing the friction to get stuck scrolling the endless feed.

There are many more examples for different habits and goals and in each case it’s not impossible to do the “wrong” thing. But it’s much more difficult and becomes easier to choose the right thing.

The idea of curating friction as it helps me take more ownership of my environments. Just as an art gallery makes decisions about every item on display include where it is positioned in relationship to the other pieces, so should I take ownership of the friction I create and leave in my life.

I’d love to know what ways you currently curate friction in your life.

I know it’s no longer Monday but my micro @monday recommendation is @andynicholaides he’s recently returned and it’s great to have him here.

For a while I had thought that long-form content was better than short content. “Books over blogs.” Now I’m not so sure. After all, sometimes a book should be a blog post. That’s all you need.

Perhaps the best thing is just good, deep content.

Out of the box 📦

In general, I believe iOS users tend to prefer out of the box solutions. It’s the whole model of Apple pricing and technology (certainly in contrast with android which favours customisation, even if it is become more standardised).

I enjoy this approach a lot. Not having to think but instead just use the default option along with its decisions helps me avoid decision fatigue. When I had an android phone, I found myself fiddling, trying to set it up just right.

At the same time, there are clear downsides. These default options have decisions which I don’t like and frequently miss power feature. For a simple example, the Apple podcast app doesn’t have the same queuing and smart speed features of apps like Overcast and Castro.

Apps like drafts and shortcuts are another curiosity to me. I love their power but they are the antithesis of “out of the box” philosophy.

I have certain actions and shortcuts which are really useful, but I also have a selection which are just taking up space, unused. I try to clean up my actions episodically, and have recently been doing just that.

but I still wonder about the friction between out of the box and customisation.

This is a second test of a new shortcut to post to microblog and include a category selected from a list. Second times a charm right…

Sometimes a Tweet Should (And Does) Become a Blog Post

I recently -complained- wrote about when a book should really be a blog post or series (hey there most business books) but sometimes the reverse can happen where expanding upon a short idea provides greater context and value. I was reminded of a great example of this, expand by Garrick van Buren.

The idea of expand was simple, Garrick posted three tweets every day and then at the end of the week he found out which resonated the most and wrote in greater detail about them for his newsletter (which cost money).

To some degree, I try use micro.blog for a similar purpose. Posting content and seeing what resonates with people. There are no favorites, stars or likes so it’s more about comments but also when I see similar themes appear elsewhere.

This post is actually an example. It’s a continuation based on the reaction to the first and on seeing @PatrickRhone mention Garrick.