I had an interesting conversation with a classmate of mine about our inability to speak loudly during presentations and such.
She said that it was a cultural thing, but she mentioned that her father was pretty loud, which caused her and her mother accommodate by being quieter. Recalling my own childhood, it was kind of same way except with my mother. Regardless, we agreed that in America, you have to be pretty loud to get the attention you need to sell your point (or any attention at all).
Which led us to the conclusion: People don’t listen.
This manifests itself in everything from people ranting all the time about their problems; people paying other people to listen to them talk about their emotional issues (therapists); explosive arguments left and right; and millions of girlfriends complaining that their boyfriends don’t listen enough. Is there any other place in the world that has these problems?
I would argue that our culture promotes it by promoting the idea of individualism, creating an everyman-for-himself-situation, which makes personal communication a matter of survival.
My classmate was also talking about how she’s adapted by mastering the art of nodding and smiling and adding the obligatory “uh-huh” to fake that she’s listening. And it doesn’t seem to bother the speaker at all.
Which leads us to another conclusion: personal communication, it seems, can just be a monologue.
This again, seems to be built on this individualism vibe we have going here. Our egos are so large that we feel like we can have an exchange of ideas through talking to ourselves. And it’s really unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how you look at it), because our culture rewards this kind of behavior.
A lot of us (in the ad industry at least) are taught to have an opinion on everything and to express it. No matter if you actually know anything about what you’re being asked. This is ridiculous, because again, there’s no listening involved and it’s a monologue. God forbid you call time out to reflect on things. Part of the ridiculousness of planning is that it’s just that – listening. That’s my job, to listen to people and then reflect on what they said. It’s certainly something EVERYONE can do, but why they devote a special position for it? Well, now we know.