Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Listening--Awkward? Glib? Other?

In my tutor training course syllabus I write about how I anticipate that my assignments in which tutors listen to one another’s sessions will be awkward: “Over time we’ll get better at listening to listening and talking, and perhaps even learn to do it gracefully at times. But I’m pretty sure we should also all expect—and accept—some awkward moments.” A few years ago I wrote about how Tom Snyder (remember him?) epitomized the awkward listening rhetor. As talk show host—another professional listener—he would stumble over his delivery, make it very apparent that he was telling jokes to an empty studio, for example, not allowing his viewers to forget they were listening to spontaneous, live discourse. (See: http://www.sla.purdue.edu/people/engl/dblakesley/burke/bokser.html)

I confess I’m enamored with the awkward rhetor. And yet, Frank Abnegale makes himself strategically naïve in order to soon become seductively glib. What other stances can the listener take? What kind of listener is most appealing to most of our students/tutors? Have you labeled your listening today?



At 6:15 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

I still find it painful to sit still and listen to a student's silence --- or to his or her weak responses to my questions. I find myself longing for more from the student and feeling distinctly dissatisfied. I just finished a session with a student that was like this, and I'm sad to say that I again failed to restrain myself from trying to fill in the empty space. My listening bone needs surgery because apparently it is broken!

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