Thursday, May 03, 2007

Look, Really Look; Listen, Really Listen

When I taught reviewing (called “Critical Writing For the Mass Media,” or something like that), I had two lectures. One was called, “Look; Really Look.” The second was, “Listen; Really Listen.”

Ah, the art of listening. If you watch the Tonight Show, notice how Jay Leno begins jokes two or three times. The audience is not listening, either in the studio or at home, and it helps to repeat the opening so they will know what is going on.

How often do you have to repeat something to a person who said, “Oh, sorry; I wasn’t listening,” or whose thoughts go astray in the very middle of your sentence? The person you are speaking with who, when someone else enters the room, excuses himself to speak to the new one, then turns back and says, “Now what were you saying?”

The art of paying attention is also the art of respecting the person who is speaking to you. Unless your companion is a complete bore (and I have known such), those who are offering their ideas deserve a hearing. I exempt bores from this only after knowing someone who could, and did, talk for two hours non-stop one morning on a trip, and the same that afternoon on the return. I was not there, fortunately, or my honesty might have taken over.

When my mother realized people were not listening to her, she started speaking gibberish. As she was discovered, she would sweetly reply, “I’ve been doing this for a few minutes now.”


Anonymous RuthC said...

The first lesson I remember from teacher education training is that only 1/3rd of the class is listening at any given time, and therefore it's imperative to present the same material three times.
Not unlike one of the first lessons in Speech class: tell 'em what you're going to say, say it, then tell 'em what you said.

Both lessons have served me well in all facets of my life.

May 04, 2007 11:05 AM  

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