HOW TO TALK
HOW TO STUDY
more important cases, to take one of the striplings with him to interviews and conferences. T~$ stripling sits in the conference, says nothing, but listens and learns. But youthful study of communication can be only a foundation. It is only the man or woman carrying responsibilities who is prompted to look below the surface of conversation or address and perceive the bearing of this or that change of manner of presentation upon the feelings and actions of those concerned. What for a youth might be only a mechanical exercise is for the adult something that affects the outcome of an important undertaking. The reason the boy who goes early to work often gets the advantage in the race of life is largely the very fact that he early has to face the responsibilities of adult relationships, and hence develops early a serious attention to the way people react to stimulus. Instances of Adjustment to Responsibilities.-People grow under responsibility. We often remark upon the rapidity and apparent ease with which a man moving up into a difficult position will master the technique of new and strange duties. In the case of women the same thing often shows strikingly in the matter of social adjustment. When we come close to such instances we generally find that the~e persons had already discovered for themselves the essentials of communication and had developed a considerable mastery of them. Using Communication to Win Success.-A boy from a country town entered a little prairie college. He did fairly well in his studies and joined actively in student enterprises, managing the teams and other enterprises, and running them successfully and economically. After graduation he taught school for a while; then studied law, partly in night classes; then hung out his shingle in his home town, where he mixed in county poJi·tics. He attracted the attention of a city investment banker who was running for senator and got a small job in the city bank. A few years
IIIIJI'V, and he became manager of the western branch of a great 1I1\I'slll1enthouse. Later he opened his own business. When \\111came, as he was past the age of enlistment, he entered the JIII.lI·lcl'master's department and made a distinguished record overI ,1'1 i 11 handling supplies. After the war he became assistant secI J1,II'yof one of the federal departments, and is now again condlll'lillg his own business on a large scale. This man has been a lifelong student of the essentials of busi1I1",~1 communication, Again and again he has gone ahead of men II IIII:->C innate mental gifts were perhaps greater. One reason is, 11I'1'lllld doubt, that he has always taken carefully into account, a III /lis attack on the work of his position, the matter of his relation-, 1111'S with the people involved. Incidentally, there has come a 11:"ilicant change in his personal manner. As a youth he was \ dW:IYstalking, and very often about himself. Now he talks 1I1111'h less, and in a less positive manner. He has learned the III III listening, Using Communication to Help Others.-When the United "Ilil's entered the war a young man in business in a western city 1'111verseas in the Y. M. C. A, service. He proved to have a o 111'I'i:Ji knack for handling social and personal relations. He was IIIIIi/vI modest, absolutely dependable, and came to be trusted It, 11\1'1 IIII l11anding officers with highly important and delicate duties. \ 111'1' war the business leaders of one of the great financial the JJIIII'I"S hecame disturbed over a laxness among the boys employed III Iliisilless houses, There was an epidemic of robberies of mesJIlli('I"S, nd troubles of other sorts, They got this man to take a IIIild () r the question of the boys in business, not the defectives but 1111' lil"ight, capable lads who were in line to be the executives of IIIIIIIII')'OW they could develop wisely. Today his work for the if 11111'/1 the financial district is of national note. He has been ()I 1111'1111 counsellor to thousands of boys, hundreds of them and 1111'lIlIyrowing up to positions of usefulness and responsibility. g \ lit! II lare'e number of leaders of American finance and industry
HOW TO TALK
HOW TO STUDY
look upon this man as a personal friend and adviser in their most intimate problems with these young employees, The reason is, more than anything else, his exceptional command of the power of communication. I-Ie is a man of few words, and these direct and simple in the extreme. He seems continually to see the one thing that needs to be said, in conversation or in his rare and brief public addresses; he says this and nothing more. He does not compromise. But he does not put his foot in it. He gets people to go along with him. Studying Life Itself.-These men have studied communication where all of us may study it, in daily life. What you need to do primarily, particularly in the first stages of tbis study, is to note points of communication procedure, little and large, in the situations that come about in the stream of your regular activity, to try to catch their significance and apply them. Gradually you will organize them into principles, Communication is action, and it can be studied only in action, through observation, reflection, and experiment. Until you learn to read its teachings in life and draw from life, you get nowhere; you have not even begun. But the thing can be done if you put your mind on it. Think of the persons of your acquaintance who are conspicuous for their ease and success in social and business contacts. If you are willing to give this matter a little time every day, beyond question you can develop bit by bit the sureness of touch that you admire in them. For you will be passing through the very process which they, in some way or other, have followed. The Shell of Unconsciousness.-One of the chief difficulties of the entire process is that of getting started. As already pointed out, it is not natural for us to notice communication procedure; our conscious attention-normally-is focused upon content. When we first attempt to observe procedure, the how, we find ourselves switched to notice of content, of the what. Thus when you first try to scrutinize the way you talk it may
like trying to get out of your skin. How are you to become 1I111'I('ious f what has been unconscious? o You may look for 1111I1!llc the wrong place .. You may try to change some feature in 111011 really a merit, and entirely overlook the point that is causis i III: IIIC difficulty, You might make a start through taking up the study of a par1IIIIhr form of communication which is new to you. By beginI"III~wi th attention to technique in the new situation, you might III Itillc, later on, to carryover the conscious technique into your 1IIIIdiliaiactivities. Study of public speaking sometimes leads inti IIt'("l.Iy to improvement in one's conversation. Study of a foreign Ilill:llage sometimes helps in the same way. But the chances are IHlilllst it. Poor human nature is so constituted that acquired 1III in' one form of speech rarely carries over to a habitual-form, I" 1'('lIt through determined, conscious effort. A man may speak II'il'II~~h ith distinctness and good tone, yet retain his mumble and w IWillig' when talking his mother tongue. 'racking the Shell.-Cracking the shell of unconsciousness likely to begin in an unexpected way, through casual IIiJ/i('(;of some odd little peculiarity in a public speaker, or in the I III versation i of a stranger. A reporter for a financial journal I 111111t'ed sit in the front to row at a meeting of the American 111111 Association. The platform was high and he had to crane kers liI~1lIeck to see the faces of the speakers. The president of a III1'111: New York bank got up to read a very long and very dull 11111'1'1', the reporter composed himself to slumber. But the and dl"lillguished banker, unaccustomed to standing before an audiIIIt', was nervous. Though his voice droned on calmly, his feet \\,1'1 not at ease; he was continually shifting his weight. The t' 11I1I·tcr's eye was caught by the financier's step-dancing and he 111'1:1111 counting the shifts of position-435 in an address of forty i IilillIIcs ! He had a story for his intimates. The next time he Illd 10 report a speech, he watched the speaker's feet. Gradually Iii' developed a critical attitude toward such "foot-work," which
HOW TO TALK
HOW TO STUDY
led to discovery of other points of oratorical technique, then to a little wholesome attention to his own manner when called on unexpectedly for "remarks" at a club. meeting, then to a class in public speaking, and finally to a thorough-going alteration in his general handling of communication. Watching for a Lead.-The best way to crack the shell of your own unconsciousness is to lie in wait for some such lead. When by chance your attention is caught by some trifling mannerism in a speaker-posture, wording, intonation, sentence form, emotional attitude, or what not-follow it up. You might utilize the dead time on trolley or train, in the office or at a dull meeting, watching-some group engaged in conversation, or watching the public speaker whose tiresome talk you must sit through. You might shut your eyes and listen to the ups and downs of voices, the distinctness or slovenliness of utterance, or the peculiarities of pronunciation. Or you might notice the number of times a speaker says "and" or "I think" or "Listen !" You might time a speaker or a conversation group and count the number of slang phrases or the number of incomplete sentences in the space of three minutes, or the number of times the speakers interrupt each other. The range of possibilities is endless. vVhat will catch your attention will probably be something not mentioned here; something which at first may appear quite unrelated to the problem of communication as you have thought of it. Whatever the item is, when it really strikes your notice you will be free for a while from the spell of listening for content, for the meaning. vVith respect to that one item you will be viewing the process of communication objectively, as you view a man's movements in running or skating.
11111 of the relation of this item of manner or form to a ire 111111"'1 ':-; communication as a whole and of its general bearing 11\"111 .l'llllr impression of him. For example, if you discover that 1I11'~1Iyour "cases," in the space of three minutes by the watch, 1I Hlll'l 11dozen incomplete sentences, the appearance of one person ! II III W Ilose sentences are complete will challenge closer scrutiny, III li!'I' wllcther it is a case of exceptional mental grip or merely of 1IIIHillieitude for grammar. '1111 may have the impulse, now, to do a little systematic II"IIIIII~~' the special item you have been observing. Just taking on flli lililc to see for yourself whether other persons have noticed IliI~rl:IIIIC thing and what they have to say, often flashes a revealiln ttigllificance upon something that has puzzled you. An evening II IIII' public library, skimming books and magazine articles to III"" lip this one item, may prove stimulating. You may find 11II/ Iy anything about your point, or you may discover a great i ""Iii What is said about it may prove to be connected with other II III1I which will now take on for you a like significance. lIy the time a week or so has passed, if you have kept eyes lilt! (':I)'S open in the laboratory of daily contacts, the single point 111 It'('hnique is likely to have broadened; other items, related or 1111 i t,laLcd, are likely to catch your quickened attention. These illlIl can be looked up, if you like. After two or three have been 1I1111I identified others will probably be coming fast out of the IIIj~1. By the end of three or four weeks you will be freed from Iiii' Iyranny of absorption in content and definitely out on the road I tI objective attention to the way a speaker-old or young, man III W()lnan,learned or illiterate-plays the game of communication.
Following the Lead._ Therefore, pursue this one item for a few days in every way possible, looking for the same thing in another speaker or group, and another, and so on. The practice of jotting down a brief note about each of the "cases" may lead
What to Study-The Situations of Life.-If you will conthe situations in which you are habitually placed, analyzing 111I'1ito see what reactions they demand, gradually you will I ,11'v~'lop sense of what is needed in a given situation, and will a Itltild up a real technique of operation. ,luppose, for convenience, we group communication situatli""
HOW TO TALK
HOW TO STUDY THE SUBJECT
tions under four heads corresponding to four chief phases of the life of an active man or woman, as follows: The talk required in connection with the 1'esponsibilities
your calling. of
his sincerity-that is to say, his directness, his freedom rrom disposition to wander from the point or to "show off," Ilis honesty of nature, and his courtesy. listener-such characteristics
tlIe part of the receiver-the
That which is called out by the voluntary activities, social, professional, philanthropic, religious, and the like, in which you engage-the talk required in connection with professional and social groups.
That which is required in one's life at home and with intimates-the talk of private hours. That which is required in one's relations with the community at large-talk to the general public. What to Appraise in Speaker and Listener.-The president of one of the oldest and best-known of American publishing companies remarked, in connection with his reply to the questionnaire from the English teachers, that the purposes of all human communication may be summarized roughly as follows: To To To To To To ask information. impart information. express feeling. discover feeling in others. convince of the truth of a view. produce action.
Io'irst, his own command of the technique of language and its ;ll1xiliaries; S('cond, his alertness of attention; '1'11 his openness of mind as regards ideas, and his ability ird, Lo allow properly for peculiarities of temperament in the speaker and for defects of the medium itself. of, Daily Experience.These are all points 111111 (·[tll be readily noted in the course of the day's activities. Not I Illi I vcrsation, however casual or however formal, but may tell \ 1111 l-IOmething about how people talk and listen. Books will III II', Lessons will help, But it is observation of Iife itself that 111(lst important. And you can train yourself not only in I 11'111 ~'I' alertness at the moment, but in the power of thinking 111111, over a situation in a moment of leisure, and bringing into IIIlllWious notice just how the participants played their hands, IIii' practice of deliberately analyzing just what happened in the fill i I flC of a sale is a common requirement laid upon new salesmen II Illc training courses of sales organizations. ()l1e result will be of a sort of double consciousness, so that \1111 will be able to watch yourself even while engaged in eager dllll'llssion, and while giving close attention to the subject matter. \\'Io)'s have this, Artists have it, many physicians and those lit) di rect other people, Why not develop it for yourself? Learning from Others.-Conversation with other persons I/Hllit their own methods and experience is often useful, learning Il1lw they do the things which you also have to do. They may III" always be able to tell you clearly what you want to know; \1 ill will have to edit or interpret their statements, and often
Now it is evident, in the light of Chapter II, that certain characteristics in the attitude and performance of speaker and of listener will have bearing upon the effectjveness of transmission of thought and thus upon the degree to which these' objectives are secured. On the part of the sender-the speaker-such characteristics would include: First, his control of, the technique of language and its auxiliaries; Second, his clear understanding of the limitations of the listener, of the medium of language, and of the message;
you will see that the signific.ance of what they tell you is very different from what they suppose. But the frank talk of any man, however fragmentary it may be, about what goes on in his own mind, is a valuable corrective of inferences from your own experience, Printed Aids, Perhaps.-At this point, perhaps, books will begin to, be helpful. The works of reference which you consult for other purposes will be at hand for help in this matter also. vVhat these have to tell will be supplemented by your general reading. It is human nature that you are studying, and the literature both of fact and of fiction will have many suggestions, Biographies, which describe the personality and manner of talk of historical figures, are a rich quarry. Stories, novels and plays, which give one man's notion of how other men of certain sorts have acted in certain situations, are suggestive sources, though they have to be taken with caution, because the novelist's notion of how people act may be unreal. Taking Notes.- Very useful in any orderly investigation, as you probably know well, is the habit of jotting down notes of your observations, experiences, conferences, or reading~just brief notes on scraps of a "Buddy tablet" and thrown into a drawer at night. It is wise to follow a uniform method. Every note, however brief, ought to cover four points: first, the date and place-the time when you made the note will be increasingly significant as your study progresses; second, the fact noted; third, a background phrase or two to recall the circumstances; fourth, another brief phrase to show what you thought, at the moment, of the item's significance. Such work may prove highly interesting, Keep notes and clippings in a set of folders corresponding, say, to the chapters of the book you are studying. Before long you will find items coming up continually in the daily papers, in the bulletins of a trade association, in the program of a dinner. Looking through
Iii" Jik now and then will be suggestive. Your point of view II ',Ir;ldily advance. Unexpected relationships between items II d1'vclop. The dates will enable you to check your own prog1\ HI :\l1clshift of view. ' Thinking It Out.-Try to approach this matter of communi,,/1111)r thought always with an open mind, just as if you were ( 1I11Ill'sl investigator, as if no books or other authorities were in 1',ll'llce. A few years ago the Soviet government of Russia 111'''some descriptions of the courses of study to be followed II IIIl' new Bolshevik schools. \i\fhile the point of view was in 1IIIIIIy respects absurd, the freshness of approach to some of the 1111111:llrlental problems of learning and teaching was striking. 1111'~H: new Russian teachers say for instance: "Every school 11111',111 to have a dictionary. But very likely there is no money III lilly a dictionary. Therefore, let the children make a dicI
1111l1:lry." You might try something like that for yourself. Try to dlilW LIp, for a new man coming into your business, a list of 1111' special words and expressions he will need to know, and just \I 11:11 they mean, Or draw up for a friend from another town, 111111 into your social circle, a list of the individuals he will ing 1111't't just what you have learned about the way to talk with and \',11'11f them to make sure of an agreeable contact, You may o /II' :Istonished to find how the effort to set such things down will I1:lri[y your own conception of matters you have always known IlliI never fully realized. The Harvest of a Quiet Mind.-President Hopkins of DartIIIOL1th ollege, not long ago, addressing a gathering of deans of C 1\lllerican colleges, spoke of the vital importance in education of 1:lking time to think things out for oneself. It is an element in Ij re, he pointed out, which in our crowded modern existence far 100 many of us neglect.
We know very little about the particular forces exerted upon the minds men in those periods of reflection and leisure and meditation which
were an absolutely early years. , . .
TO TALK; concomitant
[Ch. 3 of the life of
Daniel Webster during his period here in Dartmouth College taught school at Fryeburg, Maine. He used to ride through the forest and cross over the mountains, It was a trip of several days. We do it now by automobile in about as many hours. One queries what Daniel Webster was thinking about in those long rides and what the influence of those thoughts was upon his later life. You get like basis for speculation everywhere. You read the story of Washington, What was the effect upon Washington's later life and accomplishment, of those periods of reflection when he was off from companionship on his surveying trips, often days at a time, and thrown back onto himself. The life of Lincoln offers the same basis for speculation. The child of the present day has no such incentive for reflection. . . There is something to do every moment, with the movie, with the automobile, with the radio, and when none of these are working the telephone is always available. . . . It seems to me that entirely beyond all methods of technique, all questions of .definite objectives, stands out this thing-that the time of the college course, •rightly used, may be the period wherein men may be given something of the opportunity to think things out. .
111111'1'1 might, get a mild passing interest here and there, you 11'11'1111 1 )'cad would not penetrate; it would not remain with I [III\, III(I)'C than if you were to read straight through a laborai, \' 11111111:iI, The one certain result would be to deaden whatever Ii'I ''''II IlJi~ht have started in your mind. Having "read the I/(" ill Iltat hasty way, you would retain only a jumble of par1111' gl'lIHI)(.:d items which almost at once would begin to fade !" II 11'1 i<.:ction.Very likely you might attempt to practice some I 1111 11111.;·gestions that caught your eye as you ran through, !, 1'111' II(:"muscles" had grown to apply them. You would cerI iillll,\ 1:lil in the specific thing attempted, and would end where
These words apply to grown men and women as truly as to the youth in college and school. More important than all the information and stimulus that can be gained from others is the habit of cool, unhurried analysis of a subject for oneself. This is particularly true as regards improvement in the intimate activities of communication, After you have gone a certain distance in your study you are likely to feel the impulse to put down your own view of some point. By all means seize the impulse. Giving Yourself a Chance.-And, above all, if you really want to improve, do not let yourself just sit down and read this book, or any other of the sort, straight through. To think the matter out for yourself, take your own time; stop and test each point by your own observation before passing it. Time is absolutely necessary to familiarize yourself with the subject so that you can see your way. If you were to gobble a discussion of
till 11I'1',n 11, ililok like this is to be challenged as you go. Give yourself 1,111111\'(', Each chapter is designed to open up one particular "1,1111 the subject, to give a basis for your own analysis and !lr 1I111j1l11'i:-;on. vVhat is said on any point is only a part of what 'iilHIIi ill.: said. Go through the chapters as occasion prompts you lilt! It·touch, enlarge, rebuild them for yourself, utilizing your ,II II II()I:CS and your own experiences. Before long you will find III II yllll are developing a knowledge of the problem of effective 1IIIIIIIllillicationas regards your own case, which goes beyond that d lilly book or other outside source, but which you never could II;!\I' Ilad if you had not put your mind definitely on the problem. It Ii closeness to life gives the study of talking, approached in IIilll W:lY, a special and gripping interest. As you follow along Iii II :\ program you will find that the day's work moves better, IIld yOll will become aware of a sureness of touch in points where II111 not have it before. For you will have begun to develop did 11111't' the greatest powers known to man: That of selfof I pression, of really "saying what you mean" wherever you are, 11:ileverthe circumstances, without stepping on any corns; that Ii I rcading between the lines as you listen to others, salvaging lill'i,. real meaning however they blunder in presenting it; and 111111 estimating more justly your own thought, which means of IIII' power of better thinking.