Thursday, July 13, 2006

To listen, to hear or ignore

I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.
- Diane Sawyer

A most engaging TV interviewer, Diane Sawyer has the skill to be able to prepare new questions for her interviewee, listen to her producer barking commands into her ear, while at the same time listening to the person speaking to her so that she can respond with pertinent reply questions where appropriate.

Most people listen to those with whom they share a dialogue. That is, they face the other person with their mouths closed. Not so many actually hear what the other person has said.

They are too busy preparing the next portion of the conversation in which they will continue to elaborate on the subject that takes their interest at the moment.

What the other person wants to talk about or whether that person wants to hear what the speaker has to say often receives short shrift. The important thing to them is to express themselves to someone who will listen, not to find a subject of common interest where the two people will each express their respective opinions and share comments in reaction to each other's thoughts.

Television has made us recipients of a constant barrage of talk coming at us incessantly. At some point we realize that no one on TV is hearing us back. We feel the need to express our thoughts to someone who will listen back.

So we sometimes have conversations which are, in effect, two monologues running in alternative fashion. Each party has something to say, but nothing they want to hear.

Like ships passing in the night, waving at each other with flashlights.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help every child learn to hear, and thereby learn.
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