Ask any frustrated team manager, failed sales rep, jilted love or harassed president — they will all complain: “No one’s listening!” Chances are they’re right. Because communication is one of the worst things we do.
One example is what I’m writing right now — mistakenly assuming you understand my words “jilted” and “frustrated” the very same way I do. Chances are you don’t. Just like voters don’t hear speeches about “jobs,” “healthcare” and “surveillance” the same way the speakers probably intended.
So what do we do about this daily adventure in mis-communication? Seems to this observer three habits have become common lately:
* Professional Explainers appear on the scene to explain to us what the person really meant. Such as the opposition party’s rebuttal immediately after a presidential address….those “unconfirmed” rumors that get floated by the speaker’s handlers….that cacophony of experts which clogs the Media with their expert opinions and analyzes….and recently these billions of bytes exploding out of talky bloggers like me
* Professional Therapists appear on the scene to write essays and books which somehow presume to probe their subjects’ mind after they have died. This is that elite of historical revisionists that never tires of putting famous figures from Jesus to Einstein, Ramses to Hitler, and Errol Flynn to John Lennon on their couch. Here they frame their subjects in ways which allow these self- appointed therapists to fathom inner thoughts and unexpressed motives without fear the graves will open to denounce them. One the latest examples is the new book and forthcoming documentary on J.D. Salinger
* Professional Eulogizers appear on the scene who have this habit of putting words into the minds of the eulogized. These folks pop up regularly on national holidays, at award ceremonies, at political rallies, at party conventions and assorted other events where people gather to be inspired. Eulogies for our heroes are surely needed and deserved. However, there are times when melodrama trumps reality as we are told such lovely lies as, “He died for his country knowing his death would help keep the flame of liberty burning.” Chances are the hero died cursing his fate and this war for having ended his life too soon
Explainers, Therapists and Eulogists. They’ve each become a major player in the game of human communications. Oh, you disagree…? Well, maybe that’s because I’m not communicating. Or maybe you’re not trying. Or maybe we’ll just go on mis-listening like this forever.
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