Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!
Steve chats with his visiting brother Tom, who tells a joke.
Steve: Hi Tom.
Tom: Hi Steve.
Steve: I feel particularly happy today, because I have my brother Tom visiting from Toronto; near Toronto.
He just came in; I picked him up at the airport.
He’s at our house now and it’s an opportunity for me to do some podcasts with Tom.
I thought we maybe would begin with…I mean Tom, you and I have been around for more than half a century.
Tom: You might want to speak for yourself, but the answer is yes.
Steve: We’re in our second-half century here.
Steve: In fact, we’re old.
Tom: We are absolutely old.
You know when you get a little note from CPP…
Tom: …CPP being the…
Steve: Government Pension.
Tom: …Canadian Pension Plan, folks in Ottawa the capital city, that you are now going to become a senior citizen, you know you’re old.
Steve: Right. Now, of course, we were born in the same place.
Tom: We were; to the same parents even.
Steve: To the same parents in Sweden back however many years ago.
Tom: A bunch.
Steve: A bunch. Then we moved to Montreal…
Tom: Yes, we did.
Steve: …when we were respectively five and six years old.
Tom: That’s correct.
Steve: Yeah. We lived there in their somewhat harsh climate.
Tom: Yes, very, very wintery and very, very hot summers, absolutely.
Steve: Right. Lots of black flies and mosquitoes in the summer…
Tom: Oh, for sure.
Steve: …and a language we didn’t know; two languages we didn’t know.
Tom: Two languages we didn’t know.
Steve: But, somehow, we survived.
Tom, of course, you live in Toronto.
One of your recent activities and you’ve been, just by way of background, involved largely in sort of engineering and technical-type of activities, related sales activities…
Steve: …this kind of thing.
But now, more recently, you have been involved in teaching at some community colleges.
Having run my own company for many years and having consulted with these companies, I have gone from sales consulting to strictly teaching and training consulting.
So what I do, just to sum it up quickly, is I teach at several community colleges in sales and in communications, I teach at a Chinese college and also do small business consulting and I’m on the seminar circuit.
Steve: Now, one of your areas of interest, now latterly in your career…
Steve: …is this whole issue of communications and how important, you know, not only what you…communication is a two-way street.
Like it’s what you say and how much attention you pay to what other people are saying, so give us a little bit of a sense of the kinds of things you talk about.
Tom: If we’re talking about communication skills, at the beginning when I first looked into it, I did think there was much difference between speaking and communicating.
Today I recognize there’s a world of difference; many people speak, but few communicate.
If you understand the beauty of communicating then you…I get people to change the way they think, their mindset.
I get them to think about the person that they’re talking to and recognizing that communications is made up of three things: words, tone and body language and many people are shocked that words only constitute seven percent.
So we communicate in images and we do it very poorly through use of words.
Steve: Now it’s difficult, obviously, communications…I mean writing is communication.
Here we are podcasting, which is a communication.
There’s, obviously, no body language involved; I mean there is, but people can’t see our body language, so, I mean words are nevertheless pretty important.
Tom: They are important and I will take a little issue with the fact that there are…in strictly audio there is body language and I can detect body language on the phone, for example.
It is there, the tone and just the breathing, the delay.
The delivery of the conversation is, in fact, in itself body language and it is important.
People tend to think of themselves and dump to others without thinking, how are they going to receive it and what’s the relationship I have and that is the difference between communicating and not communicating.
Steve: So when you’re communicating you try to put yourself in the other person’s position?
Tom: Essentially, yes.
There are filters that people have towards you and you, in turn, have filters towards them, depending upon your relationship.
How you establish that relationship is important and all conversations should have some sort of emotion attached to it if it’s to be effective and it is up to you the speaker to control that emotion.
Steve: Well, when you say that you control, you can only control yourself.
I mean it starts to sound pretty manipulative if you’re going to control the other person.
Maybe the other person has taken the same communications course and is trying to control you?
Tom: Well, and again, it is the inter-relationship between the speaker and the listener as to what emotions are being elicited because you are…in fact, every time you communicate you are selling yourself and selling yourself means they will buy into what you say if the right emotions are raised.
Steve: You know that’s very interesting because, as people know here, language learning is one of my passions and interests and I very much believe that success in language learning depends on emotions.
Very often people describe language learning as an activity that’s localized in the left-part of your brain, which is the rational part of your brain and I have always felt that that was not the case.
That if I was connected emotionally with the narrator of an audio book, if I liked the person’s voice, if I liked the story, if I had favorable feelings towards the language or towards someone who spoke the language, all of these kinds of emotional attachments are tremendously important in my ability to learn the language.
Recently I have read that, in fact, language learning and a number of tasks in the brain cannot be sort of compartmentalized, that it’s done in this part of the brain or that part of the brain.
That, in fact, sort of gangs of neurons form across different sections of the brain and that these then help to develop, you know, whatever capability it is that is being developed in the brain.
So emotion, on many levels, definitely.
Most of us when we either communicate, we are, in fact, unbeknownst to many of us, selling ourselves.
The way people buy into our ideas, our opinions and the importance and give the topic or the text, the content of what we’re saying value is if they buy into it and the only way they buy into it is if there’s a very positive emotional attachment to the information we’re imparting.
Steve: Now people listening to this so far might get the impression that you’re a very serious person and me too, which, I guess, we are about certain things.
Tom: Yes, what we’re passionate about.
Steve: That’s right, but it’s also very good to introduce a bit of levity.
Steve: You told me a joke just earlier at lunch here and I wonder if you would like to share that joke with whoever is listening?
Tom: I’d love to do that.
This gentleman has his wife come to him and say, listen, if I die will you remarry?
And he says, yes sweetie, of course I will.
Would your new wife live in this house?
Yeah, I would tend to think so.
And would she, perhaps, sleep in our bed, my bed and so on?
Yeah, I think so, yeah, definitely.
Would she drive my car?
Oh yeah, for sure.
And would she use my golf clubs as well?
No, no, no, no, she’s left-handed.
It’s very useful, actually, isn’t it, if you’re giving a presentation sometimes to relax people by telling a joke?
Tom: When I teach at college and when I give seminars I always am very interactive with my audience.
The way I break the ice, both as a salesman, as a deliverer of sermons and when I teach, is I use a lot of humor.
It definitely helps people to relax; it reduces the stress they might have.
It also reduces the filters they have when they’re wondering who you are, what is your importance to me and why should I listen to you and, as a result, it enhances the relationship and whatever information you’re imparting.
So humor is definitely the way to do it, the other is, of course, the raising of the emotion.
Steve: You know it’s interesting, I read some while ago about the old Greek and Roman traditions of rhetoric.
Their approach, which I think is very good and I try to use it, is that you first have to get people to like you and, second, establish your credibility.
Steve: Then you tell a story and they had a whole series of things and then you end up with the emotional appeal at the every end, so that was how they structured it.
So that this whole business of…and then…they sort of recommend that if you’re starting to speak it’s not a bad thing to fumble over the microphone or to spill your glass or to do anything like this, which makes you more likable in their eyes, or to recognize someone in the audience or anything of this nature.
Then, of course, the second thing, once you’ve got them to maybe like you, is to establish your credentials and your credibility.
Tom: It makes you very relatable if you are seen as or perceived as not greater than they are, the listener.
Interesting enough, the one thing that I want to also mention is that it is important for people to realize and take some of the pressure off if they realize that it is up to the speaker to insure that the listener understands.
It is the responsibility of the speaker to insure that the listener understands and not vice-versa.
We are in the image business, we don’t think in words we think in images.
You know a picture is not worth a thousand words, in my mind it’s worth more like five to ten thousand words.
How are you painting that picture and what is the emotion that comes with that picture.
I mean I take the approach on language learning that the responsibility is with the learner and, yet, while I say that I know that a teacher can have a tremendous impact by the fact that if the teacher is able to stimulate the learner, if the teacher is able to encourage the learner, if the teacher is able to create positive emotions with the learner, then the learner will take off and do it.
And I don’t know whether there’s a parallel there with what you’re doing.
Tom: There absolutely is a parallel.
I often teach that skill is equal to…here’s a formula for you: skill is equal to knowledge plus practice.
It is the teacher’s responsibility to impart the knowledge and it is the student’s responsibility to take that knowledge and practice with it, so there, I think, is the very slight discern between the responsibility of the student listener and that of the teacher.
Steve: Now my view with the language learning is that the knowledge is in the language itself and that the teacher’s role is more one of a guide and stimulator-person to provide feedback.
This is quite different from where you are teaching a specific skill where you have some specific experience that you can share and that you can impart to your listeners; whereas, here we’re talking about a language which if I’m teaching English, I didn’t create English, I didn’t experience English, English is there and I can help people figure out how they can better observe it, better imitate it, you know, better internalize it, but that’s something they’re going to have to do.
Tom: No question about it.
If you’re talking language, which is a skill, the knowledge is the language itself; I totally agree with you.
Therefore, it takes the responsibility totally off the teacher, the language learner…sorry, the language teacher and focuses pretty well all of it on the student when it comes to the technique of practice.
The teach can, in this case, communicate the best ways to learn that skill, the techniques of practice.
Tom: The practice is still 100% wholly-owned by the language learner.
You know I approached the library here locally and I said, you know, can I come by and give a talk on how to learn languages?
I have learned quite a few languages, so that’s an experience that I have.
I mean you have an experience with sales, with communication and sales, I have this experience.
The experience that I have is how to go about learning languages and, of course, not surprisingly, the library said, no, we wouldn’t be interested in that because our people they just want to learn languages.
They want to learn English — like they have a lot of immigrants there – so if you come by here and teach English they’d be interested, but if you come by and teach how to learn they’re not interested.
So, I found this…I’m used to this.
So, in other words, to them how you learn the language is a given; you have a teacher teaching at people.
If you can come here and teach these people English that’d be great, but to come here and show them how to learn?
How to take advantage of… They live in Vancouver, they’re surrounded by English.
Television, radio, newspapers, Internet, to show them how…audio books, library, all the resources that they have and most of these immigrants are frustrated, they aren’t improving in their English.
And the librarian or the head of their programs there felt that having me come by, someone who speaks 10 languages, who has learned a lot of languages…and, of course, this is even before we get to the point that oh, you’ve got LingQ and you’re trying to promote something that’s for profit and all this other stuff, well before that…the idea that I would come and try to explain to them how they can be more effective at learning languages, they were not interested.
Tom: That shows me that they understand the skill of a language, but they don’t understand the difference between knowledge and practice.
They were focusing on knowledge — that you were to teach them English — as opposed to you teaching them the skill of learning the language and that is where they don’t understand.
I’m not surprised, because someone who’s not a linguist doesn’t understand the distinct or the succinct difference between the knowledge of the language and the teaching of the practice of learning the language.
Steve: Okay, we’ve ranted a bit here.
We’re going to do a few more of these and take advantage of your visit.
Steve: Thank you very much.
Tom: My pleasure.
Steve: With that we end our first little podcast.
Tom: Thanks very much Steve.
Steve: Okay, bye.