I’ve done something more notable than even Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals. (Yawn.)
I went out in the world and listened. To another person. Hells to the yeah.
It was the most startling experience.
A conversational pause does not mean the person has finished speaking.
–Tom B. Taker
Interpreting every single pause since the dawn of time as “my turn to talk” means you are an asshole.
–Tom B. Taker
My wife was speaking to me. I was listening. Wow. I know. It can happen. Okay, okay. Stay calm. Don’t blow it. Keep it together, man. So far so good.
Then she paused.
This was an industrial heavy-duty kind of a pause. A good ten seconds. In today’s world that is literally an eternity. I had my feelers out. Was she done? Was she waiting on me to comment? Was it my turn?
I still don’t know what came over me but I decided to wait. I was in it for the long haul.
Then, simply, she continued. And she expressed an additional thought that added more to what she had just previously said. A thought that, if I had interrupted, I would never have heard for the rest of my life.
This is it, I thought! The land of milk and honey over the rainbow. That land that assholes never get to see.
It was so earth shattering that a few days later I even tried it again.
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It is common for babies, once they’ve reached the age of two, to go through an “I have a ball” phase. “I have a ball,” they say. They grasp a ball tightly in their little hand with their little kung fu grip and show the ball to everyone they meet. “I have a ball.” They can be rather monotonous.
It really boggles their little two-year-old brains so much that they have a ball. And they really love it if other people show interest in the ball, the one thing they’ll never ever share. “Ha! I have a ball!” At least until people show interest in something else which they’ll immediately covet and take for themselves. Then they’ll say, “I have this other thing.” Damn two-year olds.
I don’t want to put too fine a point on it so I’ll get on message and I’ll be brief: “I have an iPad!”
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As a self-proclaimed “Guru of Negativity” one of my primary areas of interest and study has been, of course, the modern human communicator. And by using the term “communicator” I mean, of course, those who flap their gums creating a great wind. This is also sometimes known as a “giant sucking sound.” By the year 2012 ears had become obsolete as the art of listening had fallen on deaf ears. Or something like that.
As I pondered the notion that we had become a nation of assholes, I was eventually granted the gift of awareness. Abandoning the art of listening is a critical ingredient to becoming a great asshole. In fact, when one learns to stop listening that may be the pivotal moment of assholiness.
Tom’s Law #42
Assholes are persons where self-image exceeds reality.
Ever the optimist, I decided that necessity was a mother that needed nursing. Or something like that. So, in a fit of inventiveness, I hit the drawing boards on a quest to invent something capable of saving humanity.
The syllable gu means shadows
The syllable ru, he who disperses them,
Because of the power to disperse darkness
the guru is thus named.
— Advayataraka Upanishad 14—18, verse 5
The time had come to put my guru powers to good use. And I’m glad to say that I answered the call.
I call my latest invention: Trinary Listening.
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What the fuck? It’s another Monday. In honor of this start to a new week, I offer for your consideration how last week started. This is a true story. Only the pains have been changed to molest my innocence.
It’s Monday morning. I am feeling physically ill as I get ready for work and haul my ass across town. Don’t worry – the manifestation of physical symptoms is routine for me.
As I walk in front of the business towards the door, I can already hear the raised voices of Boss and Cow Orker through the wall. I heave a heavy sigh. I already know that which awaits.
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The modern era. As a people we know one thing for sure. We’re the best civilization this planet has ever seen. Hells ya.
And, by no small coincidence, we are the #1 “hey look at me” civilization of all time.
Seriously. Right now. Stop reading this and look at me. I mean it.
It used to be vanity books but that took way too much damn effort. These days it’s as easy as pie. Web sites, twitter, facebook, cell phones, and more, all give voice to a generation that screams, “Hey, look at me!” Hell, there are even some asshole pontificating bloggers who want you to read what they have to say as if they are interesting. (Hey! Don’t look at me that way!)
Naturally just putting out your wit and wisdom for the world to enjoy is usually not quite enough. Not by a long shot. After all, some folks might decide to not listen and/or not pay attention. What the devil should be done about that? Being ignored is unacceptable.
This is where our good, good friend “interrupting” rides in to save the day. Oh yeah.
The principle behind this is simple: Whatever I have to say is of Ultimate Importance and whatever you have to say is just a bunch of bullshit hot air.
You might even say this is the prime directive of our modern era. No doubt it is one of the most basic building blocks of a society that consists solely of assholes.
Let’s try a real life example. Pretend you are doing what you do best, talking about yourself and the painstakingly detailed minutia of your day, yet the other party tries to speak and interject a thought. What should you do?
Interrupt them, that’s what! Forcefully and with malice. Think of it as a conversation beheading.
Most of the time your audacious efforts at interrupting will win the day and the other party will submit. Sometimes, though, this won’t work. After all, they are most likely trying to simultaneously be as big of an asshole as you. They probably think they are important (like a special and unique snowflake) and expect your world to revolve around what they have to say.
Well, if interrupting is good, then even more interrupting is even better! Re-interrupt them. And, here’s the key strategy: Do it louder!
It’s amazing how effective a simple technique like raising your voice can be. This will shut down all but the most hardy of verbal opponents (aka your audience).
I’ve personally seen masters of this at work. Watching two black belt interrupters go at it can be fascinating. But don’t forget to bring your ear plugs! Sometimes the increase in volume can get intense enough to cause hearing loss.
The moment when one of the sparring beasts finally backs down can be one of the most spectacular as ever seen in nature. Even Mutual of Omaha hasn’t properly captured it on film yet. One party is victorious and the other submits and goes into a mode known as, “Whatever, fuckhead. You think I’m going to listen to you???”
I bet if you hone your powers of observation you just might be able to witness this phenomenon as you go throughout your day.
For those of you ready to take things to the next level, to be world-class interrupters, here is a special web site just for you. Now go out there and seize the say!