“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
I have been a Seinfeld fan from the start and I still vividly remember many of the series’ episodes. I particularly recall “The Puffy Shirt”, the second episode of the fifth season.
In this installment, Kramer’s girlfriend (Leslie) says something to Jerry. Since she is a “low-talker” (a person who talks in a low, soft voice) and not really comprehending what she said, Jerry and Elaine just nod their heads in agreement… and Jerry ends up wearing a ridiculous “puffy shirt” on a popular talk show.
Over the years I have become let’s say a tad “acoustically challenged”. I don’t hear as well as I used to, but I am still in running condition.
I don’t pretend to have my cat’s auditory perception (who while napping can hear a mouse fart) but I still can hear you perfectly well providing that you are not a mumbler or a “low-talker”.
So yes, I have a beef (maybe a calf) with low-talkers.
It is not the responsibility of the listener to hear well, but the duty of the speaker to get the message through. By carefully monitoring his audience, an accomplished speaker will know if his message is received or not. If he notices a vacant stare somewhere, he should realize that he is not getting through and try again.
Like many slightly impaired people, when I don’t clearly understand what is being said, I politely ask the person to repeat what he/she just said.
But if for any reason I don’t grasp what is being said for a second time (just like Jerry and Elaine) out of embarrassment I might nod in agreement… with sometimes-unforeseen consequences.
“An older man had serious hearing problems for many years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the man to hear 100%.
A month later the old man went back to the doctor who said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”
The old man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to their conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”
So, if somebody seems to constantly agree with you, keep in mind that it might not be that you are exceptionally convincing, but rather that your interlocutor did not get a thing you said.
And you should ask yourself: am I a mumbler or God forbids, a “low-talker”?
Do you copy? Over and out!