Sam Radford

November 19, 2021

Can you learn while you’re talking?

I never learned anything while I was talking.
—Larry King

I came across the quote above earlier in the daily email I get from The Economist.

It makes a lot of sense.

If you’re not listening, how are you learning?

And if you’re busy talking, how can you be listening?

But then I thought about the times when ideas have crystallised for me in the process of talking about them.

I’m in a conversation with a friend, we’re discussing a topic, I start talking, and suddenly an idea or insight becomes clear, right in the middle of the conversation. I am learning while talking.

It realise it could sound pompous to say I learn from my own words. But that’s not the spirit of what I’m saying. 

One of the best ways to learn is to teach. That’s what is at work here.

Clearly we need to devote a lot of our time and attention to listening if we want to learn. But if we want our listening to lead to deep learning, we need to talk about it. 

It’s in the talking that learning is embedded.


Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you – do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford |

About Sam Radford

Husband, father, lover of books, writer, tech geek, sports fan, and pragmatic idealist from Sheffield, England.