I attended a most excellent Ted Talk today. No, not the kind of Ted Talk where someone stands on a stage and chats about some matter of personal importance, but a discussion over lunch with my buddy, Teddy M. It’s during these sessions that I realize that 1) I’m not losing my mind and 2) The world is out of control and Teddy and I seem to be in the minority of people who recognize this.
Like most people, I’m out in the world most days…meeting with people, talking and taking part in the human race to seemingly nowhere. Most days I’m engaged in conversations, but as each day ends there is a feeling of dismay over what was actually discussed. Although I have my opinions on most subjects, most of those opinions remain private. Once upon a time I took pleasure in lighting a social media fire and generating a lively discussion, but after a while the idea of promoting such arguments seemed meaningless. All that was accomplished was the ruination of friendships which often resulted in the dreaded Facebook “block”! Oh my.
During my Ted Talk session today, I mentioned to Teddy that people seem to be doing a lot of talking these days, but no one seems to be doing much listening. Teddy brought up the concept of “Socratic” discussion, which struck a nerve with me. Socratic communication was a sales technique that I learned many years ago and I found it to be very helpful in not only learning more about my customers, but ultimately selling more stuff! I began studying this selling technique after once spending the day with my sales manager who thought that I did a bit too much talking on a particular sales call. I knew he felt that way because after the sales call, he told me to go outside and “practice your shut-ups”. It was pretty clear what he thought of my selling skills.
We have evolved (or perhaps devolved) into a nation of “experts”. From what I can tell, there are quite a few people around who have a lot to say, but their own curiosity is severely limited, if not nonexistent. As I rode the stationary bike at the health club one morning, I viewed ten separate televisions, all with some sort of talk show being shown and all without sound. Topics such as news, sports, entertainment, who’s the daddy, etc. were shown at once. Although the subject matter was indeed different, one aspect of each show was quite similar; someone was talking nonstop and there was, in my view, a need for that person to go outside and work on their own “shut-ups”.
While watching those televisions at one time, some questions popped into my mind. What school did all of these people attend that made them so smart? Why didn’t I go to that school? The truth is, many of those so-called experts most likely did not formally study their selected topic at all. We see it all the time in our everyday lives. Fitness trainers who never formally studied health and fitness. Life coaches who never studied psychology (and whose own lives are often in disarray) or financial advisors who, although seemingly expert in the field of managing our money don’t seem to be rolling in their own.
So, Teddy and I discussed this in a very unusual manner today over lunch. I talked, he listened, he responded, I listened, I responded and so on. The waitress felt compelled to remind us on several occasions that we needed to stop talking and eat our food! She even had a little fun with us by joking that one of us had eaten a bit more than the other, therefore one was doing more talking that the other. In retrospect, I think it was a draw as to who said more words. The result was an exchange of ideas and a spirited discussion which made for an enjoyable 90 or so minutes. I suggest finding a “Teddy” and have a Ted Talk of your own. Also, set the sound on the TV to mute.