Friday, May 24, 2013

Talk Less; Listen More

This past week a horrible tornado struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. My cellphone rattled with news alerts of the tragedy, and although I was at work, I was able to turn on the television to see some of the coverage from the devastated area. I watched dumbfounded and prayed for the people who had found themselves in the path of that horrible storm.

During the times when a tragedy has just occurred, as I watch news coverage, I am struck by an almost irresistible urge to scream, “Stop Talking!” to the little people who live inside the television.

People seem addicted to noise, especially the noise of themselves talking. I have seen this in one of my jobs where it seems that the best managers are the ones that talk the most. I refer to this management style as the “Harpy-Carpy Yippy-Yappy” style of management.

This over-talking lack of listening can have serious consequences, unless the person who is being talked at calmly and firmly restates a premise that the over-talker has missed.

Almost nine-teen years ago this coming July 1st, my Beloved and I were expecting. She woke up to find that her mucus plug had come out. Apparently the mucus plug is like a big booger that helps keep the baby healthy as it matures inside mother.

This was an exciting development, except that Beloved wasn’t due to deliver until August 4th.

Being a good husband and red-blooded American male, I immediately went into action and called the car dealership to make an appointment to get some recall work done on our car. It would not be acceptable to have an unsafe vehicle to bring home a new child from the hospital. Besides, the sound of impact air wrenches, the aroma of motor oil and exhaust, and the sound of engines starting have a calming effect.

After making that appointment, I called the doctor’s office. Being the Independence Day weekend, the office was closed. I quickly scribbled down the answering service phone number and gave them a call.

When they answered I explained the situation, “My wife is due August 4th, her mucus plug came out this morning, she is having minor contractions about 10 minutes apart.”

There was a slight pause, “This is your first, isn’t it?” the gentleman on the other end of the line must have pictured me running around like a complete imbecile, hitting every panic button in our house.

“Yes it is,” I replied.

He then proceeded to inform me that there was no cause for concern, and that I should call back when things were a little more imminent.

I took a deep breath and responded, “Let me repeat this. My wife is due August 4th...”

There was a long pause. The gentleman then spoke, his voice pitched a little higher, his cadence a little faster, the words coming out in quick staccato, “Oh, that is four weeks early! I will call the doctor on call immediately and inform her of the situation. If she doesn’t call you back in 20 minutes, call us back.”

Eldest was delivered, happy and healthy, the next day.

Sometimes it is important to talk less and listen more.


  1. Boy, I sooo agree with you!! Except when there is too much silence after you have said something profound which required a response! You check out the listener and see their eyes glazed over and you just know, they had NOT been listening at all!! That's just as frustrating!

  2. At least you watched the news. I can't stomach listening or watching reporters with everything being "horrific" instead of "horrible" and their melodramatic expressions (if that's what on their face) so I read it online instead. Definitely agree: talk less, listen more