I’m sitting at the airport with bad internet connection – (I mean seriously! Why do they make this so hard?!) – but I need to get this off my chest before I get to Bergen, for I know that everyday life will distract me.
So where was I?
4) After a brief coffee break came the remarkably enchanting Karl James to talk about the wonderfully simple yet difficult skill of listening. Sometimes, if you just shut up you’ll hear remarkable stories that you never thought you’d hear. And what beautiful stories he had to share. Like the extremely powerful story of a rape victim he had been talking to. An extremely powerful woman who had worked through the grusomeness of being raped when she was 14. A man had snuck in the back door of their house and raped both her and her mother. Gruesome, right? Absolutely horrendous. But my tears didn’t start flowing until he told us that when they were supposedly finished, he forgot to stop recording and they stumbled upon something heartbreaking. The woman told him that she didn’t regret the rape – she had learned to cope with it, survived and it was a large part of who she was. But then she said something completely unexpected “I do regret what it’s done to my brother” – my eyes are welling up just thinking about her minor break down then. She began to cry and talked about how her brother had become completely secluded and was much more troubled than anyone else in the family. It was heartbreaking and a story seldom told or shared, but because Mr. James was so good at listening, we were given this precious gift. I completely agree. I’ve been thinking lately that I’m very good at articulating other’s feelings when they’re sharing them with me. In fact I take pride in being able to describe what they’re going through better than they themselves can. It makes me feel like an excellent writer and gives my ego a boost. This is totally wrong of me! Of course I should give them room to find the words themselves! I’m looking forward to discovering all the magical stories I will encounter.
Please listen here – I know they will fill my ears in the next coming weeks.
5) The artist Cornelia Parker was just a breathe of fresh air. What a delightfully nerdy and interesting artist she is. She took us through her works with humor, delight and normalness, if I can say that without seeming patronising. I love artists who can talk about their art without being high culture snobbyish! It was amazing listening to her and the stories about her “exploding” art. She was definitely a lovely treasure that I could’ve listening to much longer.
6) Phil Gyford. What a delightfully great nerd he was! He runs the blog Diary of Samuel Pepys and is doing an exceptional job at it! The core things that stood out for me in his presentation was that his audience was of the older generation and he was catering to their desires and also that he’s been experimenting with some really funny ways of using Twitter. He had truly found a smart way to use the different mediums for the same – let’s call it – narrative. Very exciting stuff!
And I’ll have to write the rest later! But OMG it was excellent!
A great read. Thank you Linn. “Remarkably enchanting” is a lovely was to start my week.
The conversation with Jane is one I released in four parts – it’s one of those that just won’t take a tight edit down to a useful 15 minutes. And it’s great to read your words and reconsider the value and purpose of my conversation with her.
But you’re not wrong to articulate other’s feelings. Not at all. So long as you do it with them. It’s a core dialogue skill. It’s called Checking You Understand. Out of all the core skills it’s possibly the one that does more than any other to build a co-creating space for dialogue. (And as much maligned and unfashionable as it is powerful.)
Journalists tend to listen (or record) and then go away and write up what they ‘heard’. (If they’re good. Bad ones go away and write what they wish they’d heard. Maybe we all do that a bit.)
If instead of doing this we tell back to the story teller what we think we’d just heard there and then (in a generous and authentic way) one of two things happen.
1. Someone says: “Yes, that’s exactly it. You’ve got it.” And they tell you more.
2. They say: “No, that’s not quite it. It’s more like this…”
In either case, there’s movement and shift. Together.
Actually, once I remember checking my understanding with someone and another type of response coming back: “Yes… yes. That is what I said. But I’m not sure if it’s what I meant.”
I’ll publish the conversation I had with Stephen in full later this week. He’s such a gorgeous example of how much energy listening can create.
Thanks for the thoughts and for listening on Friday. What a day it was!
Thank you Karl James!
I think if anything, we can agree that dialogue is an art form that should be respected and appreciated. Which makes what you’re doing even more important!
I look forward to hearing the rest of your interviews – you’re a very good story hunter!