Let's Talk About Me Now

"The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting." -- Fran Lebowitz

I realized lately that everyone is really most interested in themselves. While not an earth-shattering epiphany, you may say, the conscious realization of this has made life pretty interesting.

Observe any conversation, whether it be a business meeting, a phone conversation, or over drinks at happy hour. I like to watch people wait, thinking about how to make turn the conversation to their personal concern or point of view. When they "respond" to the last person that spoke there will be a brief acknowledgement about what that person said, but it's really just about quickly getting onto their own point. Think "duck, duck, GOOSE!" I'll pat you on the head for your little opinion, but: GOOSE! It's all about me!

Self-interest is just a human trait; we can't waste time feeling guilty about it. But, noticing this, and how really there's hardly anyone that's exempt, has made me want to try to be a better listener. We'll see how I do.

The Story Corps Project is a neat, compelling example of how much you learn when you do concentrate on listening:
It's real life people (not Barbara-Walters-type, disinterested, professional journalists) interviewing each other. The interviews are fascinating because the interviewer is not objective. Quite the opposite, they're supremely (sometimes painfully) vested in the story being told. StoryCorps' mission is "to help you interview your grandmother, your uncle, the lady who's worked at the luncheonette down the block for as long as you can remember, anyone whose story you want to hear and preserve." It's modeled on the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program from the 1930s. (Inner nerd beaming!)

I opened my public radio supporter magazine one day (yes, I give) and saw an Oberlin classmate who'd participated in the program. He interviewed his mother who gave him up for adoption.

Post-Script Reflection of the Day: Of course, the super irony is that I'm writing this as my inaugural blog post and, practically by definition, a blog is all about me. But again, there's no shame.

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