Uhuh, uhum, go on. By @ThatPinkSuit

Rhiannon Butlin

By Rhiannon Butlin


Uhuh, uhum, go on.

Listening is talked about a lot at SCA. How ironic. *Chuckle*. Long before I went to SCA I LISTENED *laughs hysterically* to a podcast about listening. Not for creativity’s sake. But simply as a human art, invaluable for social interaction and support. You see, this woman had begun an abortion support line with an unusual ideology. Unusual in that, in America, the vast majority of abortion support organisations are attached in some way to a political leaning, much to their detriment often.

This support line was neither pro-life, nor pro-choice. It sought only to listen without bias to each woman. But how does one do this? It’s surprisingly difficult to conduct a discussion on abortion without allowing politics to infect your language. Even referring to the life in question is a challenge. Is it a ‘baby’ or a ‘foetus’?

So the leader of this support line schooled her telephone operators in listening. They were taught simply to use the term the caller used. It seems so obvious doesn’t it? And yet for the vast majority of us mirroring, as these phone operators do so skilfully, is not something we are often taught to do.

In individualistic societies like our own, social hierarchies can descend into competitions as to who can shout the loudest. So listening takes practice. And restraint.

Nonetheless, over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed how much success I’ve had whilst listening. When there’s so much pressure to produce work it’s easy to be tempted by the perceived efficiency of working alone. But some of the best work emerged not when I was trapped in my own head — a place where everything makes complete sense until you say it out loud — but during conversations. These conversations didn’t always even happen with other students. In fact, using a human* as a sounding board if often a fantastic measure of whether you’re just chatting absolute bullshit.

Not only this, but just a few days ago, during a particularly tense discussion with John Kearon, we were reminded that a mark of advertising success is fame. For your ad to enter the public rhetoric. So, if your idea doesn’t immediately make sense out loud, where it should hope to eventually exist, well then it’s not working.

So, a bit more talking and a bit more listening I think.

*Someone that has absolutely nothing to do with advertising.

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