Stop Talking and Start to Listen!

“One thing talk can’t accomplish is communication. This is because everybody’s talking too much to pay attention to what anyone is saying.”

– P.J. O’Rourke

I’ve had a busy week. I have not watched much television. Specifically, I have not watched any of the television “talk shows.” Wow – what a relief! My mind is not filled with the sound of the shouting matches that pretend to be political discussion.

I now realize that these shows – Talk Radio, TV Talk Shows –  are, indeed, correctly labeled. They ARE talk shows. All talking, all the time!

Here’s an idea: Let’s start a new type of show – Listening Shows!

The premise: The host or a panelist asks a question and actually allows their guest to answer the question without interruption. And then something truly remarkable happens: they discuss what the guest said! They respond to the response. They continue the dialogue. They listen to what is being said, they question what was not said. All seek to understand!

You’ve got to admit that this would be a radical departure from the present situation.

We could turn this concept into a Game Show – “What Did I Just Say?” or “The Wheel of Conversation.”  “Jeopardy” could become “Listening.” Or is it really the case that The Art of Listening is in Jeopardy?

Here’s how this could work: We would reverse the premise of “Jeopardy.” Rather than have the contestants respond with “The Question” e.g. Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? we could simply have the contestants answer the question.

Pretty silly – sure.  Naive? Perhaps. Idealistic? Definitely!

I am glad that I went for a week without watching a single political talk show. These are not panel discussions. They are “shooting galleries.” Each “paid expert” on the panel just shoots off their mouth. They try to shoot as many rounds of ammunition (their point of view) as possible.

Unfortunately, this model seeps into our culture. I reflect back to the lyrics to the theme song for the movie, “Midnight Cowboy:”

“Everybody’s talkin’ at me. I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’. Only the echoes of my mind.”

Perhaps, someday, we can reverse the trend and have a lyric that proclaims:

“Everybody’s listening to me. They hear every word I’m sayin’. They know exactly what’s on my mind.”

Perhaps… Someday!

Let me know what you think. I promise to respond to what you say – not just offer my opinion! Add you comment or thought in the space below:

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