As delivered this morning to BBC Radio Bristol. It was my first trip there since the breakfast show became 'Steve and Laura at Breakfast'. Now in a different studio (very cold, all presenters wearing warm clothes) but the two-voice presentation makes for good chemistry and an improved listen. I was asked, as part of their 'question of the day', what I say when I am exasperated or stub my toe. Had to admit that the truth was unbroadcastable.
Fun also to notice how hard it is to remember a single digit change in the contact phone number when you have broadcast the same thing, fifty times a day, for several years. There is now a system of £1 fines for anyone who says 0845 instead of 0345. I think they'll need a collection bucket, not box. Good craic:
A friend once came to work with his arm in a sling. Explained it had happened in a car accident.
After gentle probing he admitted that the injury had occurred not in the crash but in the discussion on blame. Too much talking.
So listen. What can you hear?
When you start deeply listening you get beyond the immediate.
Perhaps you can hear traffic, rain, birdsong or the cat purring. Maybe the fridge is making a noise or the washing machine is rumbling and tumbling. Is there a little static or interference, radio not quite tuned?
Is someone talking to you, unaware that you are trying to listen to me?
Is there road noise because you are driving along, or the sound of the train tracks as you commute to work, headphones blocking out most other sounds.
Listening is a skill. We can practise it and get better at it. We have twice as many ears as mouths after all.
'You haven't listened.' I hear that three or four times on this station every week. Truth is, one of the hardest skills of leadership is to convince people you have listened when you are not going to do what they want.
Disciples Peter, James and John once accompanied Jesus up a mountain. The Bible tells us they heard a voice from heaven saying, 'This is my son. Listen to him.' They must have, or we wouldn't have heard of him.
At the end of political party conference season, who should we believe now we've listened to them all? How should we listen to the speech of someone held hostage declaring his home state evil?
Well there are no easy answers, but I'm convinced more listening will help not hinder.