Sunday, May 8, 2016

Listening Hard

Forgotten genius Ring Lardner was a popular satirist of the 1920s, famous for the practice of "listening hard."

He delighted fans by cloning the speech of ball players, barbers, cops and musicians in his newspaper columns, short stories, songs and plays.

Lardner influenced other, better known writers who followed, including Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and John O'Hara.

"Listening hard" is the secret sauce not only of good writers, but good salespeople, customer service reps, therapists, judges, spouses and parents.

Sadly, most of the time we default to "easy listening," where others' speech functions merely as elevator music during our ride to the top.

We're eager only to listen with the intent to reply, rather than understand, as Stephen Covey noted.

“When people talk, listen completely," Hemingway said. "Most people never listen.”
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