Dan Lyons Posthoc Salon NYC March 2023
Apr 13, 2023

The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut With Dan Lyons (video)

"What I've found is that when you listen really well, it's almost like a magical experience. People come alive." - Dan Lyons

By Templeton Staff

"I think right now listening has become more important than ever. We've become so polarized. We don't listen to each other. We sort of talk across each other. Or, we don't even talk — we shout across each other, demonize each other, and we leap to conclusions. I think listening is the first step towards healing," says author Dan Lyons in a recent interview with Susan MacTavish Best, as part of Templeton World Charity Foundation's ongoing series with Posthoc Salons.

"There's a theory that it's actually physiologically hard to listen," Lyons explains. "Our brains can process 800 words a minute, where we speak about 125 words a minute. So if you're speaking to me, I have all this idle processing speed in my brain, and it goes looking for something to do." Unless we consciously make an effort to stay attentive, our own internal distractions can take over. Before we realize it, we may have missed parts of the speaker's message because we were absorbed in our own thoughts.

In the Salon conversation Lyons opens up about the experiences and research behind his new book, STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisey World. Featured on the cover of Time Magazine in February 2023, STFU offers actionable advice drawn from behavioral science on how to communicate with intent, think critically, and open your mind and ears to the world around you. The theme of the book and of the Salon conversation highlights topics similar to the foundation's Listening and Learning in a Polarized World priority.

Lyons describes his experience as what he calls a "chronic talkaholic," and how that led to polarization in both his personal and professional relationships. His road to "talkaholic recovery" — a journey Lyons says saved his marriage and relationship with his teenaged twin children — involved a lot of research into how listening can be such a challenge. Visit this link to learn about some of his findings and recovery techniques.

"What I've found is that when you listen really well, it's almost like a magical experience. People come alive. They actually become more interesting," he shares. When the listener gives the speaker the space to talk and express themselves, "listening makes you realize how dazzling people are."

Listen to the Posthoc Podcast here for the full conversation.

POSTHOC Salons by Susan MacTavish Best celebrate the power of gathering by bringing people together to share ideas, stimulate conversations, spark connections, and build community. The salon series POSTHOC hosts with support from the Templeton World Charity Foundation asks thought-leading experts what it means to flourish.