Why Are Some Very Smart People So Quiet?

By Richard Muller, Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley, author of Now–the Physics of Time.

I recall having lunch with Freeman Dyson. After lunch, I thought about it. Dyson had been very quiet, except when asking a few key penetrating questions. I had been flattered that he had been interested in my answers, and I had talked on and on and on.

Dyson seemed to have enjoyed the lunch, and he seemed eager to sit down with me at subsequent opportunities, but I realized, although he may have learned a few things from me, I had learned almost nothing from him. I almost felt tricked. In fact, he was just practicing something he had developed over the years: the skill of listening.