Ya’ Don’t Know What Ya’ Don’t Know…

Image result for listenBut I do know what I do know. Don’t I? Yet, I do not know what you do know.

And we all know how important soft skills* are in the workplace. viz.: Technical skills may get you the interview, but soft skills will get you the job.

I am in touch with my faults, Chickens…I shout them out…which, of course, is one of my faults…well…I prefer to think of it as “speaking passionately”…around my kitchen table if you couldn’t bring some intensity to the conversation…don’t bother sitting down.

So I’ve made soft skills a personal mission (read-obsession)…if you’ve been in one of my learning and/or communications workshops…you know.

You also know that we talk about listening as a vital soft skill…and it is…oh how it is! e.g.:

  • Seek to understand, not be understood.
  • Listen 75% – speak 25%
  • Hearing is a physical process – listening,  a cognitive process. 

I can recite the platitudes like Hail Marys…but I suck at listening. I do.

It’s not because I like to talk, I don’t especially…so I’m just going to be honest…here’s why I’m lousy at listening:

  1. I know. Short of patience to begin with…it’s hard to listen when someone is telling you something you already know…waste of time…amIright? As you age, you become more aware of time…so let’s get to the part I don’t know. This makes me think of learning (doesn’t everything though?!?!) What if information provided to us (topical of course)…was based on our questions. We’ve got to face facts: we’re a Q&A culture…Google is god…alas Alexa is not human.
  2. Point, please. Short of patience to begin with…I am not a therapist. I mean at school, at work…our communication is transactional, right?…we are seeking to accomplish something…so let’s get to it. I mean…if we hit it off…we can grab a drink some time to probe our psyches and blame our parents…but that’s a different situation, which lends itself to a different kind of conversation; alas, maybe I am not human.
  3. Silence.




See what I mean…that white space makes you sweat…at least a littleImage result for da bomb…right?

Silence is ‘da soft skills bomb’ they say. If you’re a good listener, “they” say, you are not formulating your response while someone is talking…people puh-leeze…short of patience to begin with…who has all day for meditative pauses after every conversational addendum?!? Maybe I’m just a slow processor…i.e. I am a slow processor. To be effective, my pauses need to be days more than moments.

Don’t get me wrong Chickens, everyone deserves to be heard. As a matter of fact, my mantra with students is always “find your voice,” but part of the journey to find one’s voice is learning how to adapt it – matching our voice to our environment, our audience, our circumstance – and how to refine it – speaking with clarity, purpose, and selectivity. In this way, we develop a voice worth listening to…

There’s a lot of noise in the world, Chickens. So if we want to improve our listening skills, we have to improve our speaking skills…voila′ p’nut butter & jelly.

Image result for noise vintage


  1. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8 is midterm – time to reflect & assess.
  2. Today is FAT TUESDAY – eat your paczki w/o guilt.


If no one will listen / Not one…Tell your vision / To a stone.

~Jeremy Ingalls

*personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

I Have a Mug Shot

It’s true, Chickens…full disclosure. I feel like we’re at a point in our relationship where we can have these ‘come-to-Jesus’ talks…

So I can tell you that I fought the law when I was in college (probably not all that uncommon) but in my case a little anticlimactic. I wish it was a “Hangover” caliber incident …instead, I was stone-sober…and that’s kind of the crux of it really.

My senior year of college I was tired of the party scene…longing for something a little more substantive…going out for a bite to eat at about the same time the party crowd was rolling out…car after car of raucous, drunken revelers and guess which car gets pulled over?

At that particular moment, the universal scale of justice (in my mind) finally tipped…like Trump on twitter, I let go and couldn’t stop…I “passionately” laid out every frustration and growing pain on these coppers. At first, they seemed amused…but soon enough, I made it personal…I may even have pushed one of them (gasp)…because, in my mind, they stopped me not to serve and protect, but to amplify my feelings of inequity and powerlessness.

Image result for angry woman vintage

In the back of the cruiser, on the way to the local station, I remember listening to radio chatter, the squeak of black leather seats and clinging to the “cage” in melodramatic fashion. When we got to the station…my original car companion in toe, shaking his head…things had mellowed a bit…but they took a mug shot, they did…saying to my companion, “You’ve got your hands full,” as we headed out into the night. Hmpf?!?!

I think of this moment sometimes as I sit with students, Chickens, listening to stories of “life happening” (we like to say in higher ed. circles)…and life happening makes me think of learning…because I do believe that learning happens best when we pay attention to our lives happening.

So what did I learn, you ask, when I fought the law and the law won? A couple of things…Image result for barbie mug shot

  1. Life is not fair. This was my father’s mantra my whole life long
    …but we can’t confuse receiving information with learning…and no matter of philosophizing, politicizing, raging or toiling will make it so.
  2. Fair is not equal. (More education jargon…) Coming to terms with one’s self, one’s circumstances, the way one’s particular life has happened is difficult but essential to letting go of excuses, resentments, and blame.
  3. Anyone can be angry–that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not easy. -Aristotle

Number #3 is still a work in progress.