Listening: Stop Farding In the Car

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you communicate more clearly.

         “Farting”— not exactly the kind of word you expect to hear on a serious radio talk show. Maybe “farting” is a word you might hear shock jock Howard Stern utter but certainly not  broadcasting baron Rush Limbaugh, who does his show “with half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair because I have talent on loan from God.”

Woman farding in the car

         Even God may have winced at this Limbaugh assault on the ears of millions of radio listeners across the country.  Many were enraged. Why is the  grand master of political talk radio talking about a woman who was arrested for farting in her car. At least that’s what they thought they heard him say.

         Radio stations managers around the country started to pull the plug on his show when they heard him respond to the obvious question: how could the police tell she was farting. “Because the police could see it,”said Limbaugh , his tongue firmly in his cheek.

             Then Limbaugh exonerated himself and educated his listeners on the verb “to fard.” Farding means to put cosmetics on the face. The lady in her car was arrested for putting lipstick on as she drove. And Limbaugh owned up to his publicity stunt– a publicity stunt  he devised after running across the word “fard” in a dictionary a few days before.

       I smiled the first time I heard this farding story. But then I cringed at thinking how easily Limbaugh manipulated his audience with only one word.

 Edit Yourself Before You Speak or Write

     Leaders in the real world can’t afford to say SOME thing that their audience hears as ANOTHER thing. That’s why the most effective leaders  can’t become like so many Humpty Dumpty ‘s telling Alice in Wonderland, scornfully that:  “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean. Neither more or less. “

      Not exactly.

     Consider former newspaper columnist Jack Germond. He was inadvertently very controversial in his use of word that doesn’t translate well from print to television —  from what you can read to what you only hear. On a television program he ignited a firestorm of outrage after  he criticized black activist Rev. Jesse Jackson for fumbling issues that “went beyond his ken.”

       Listeners heard a racial remark –“skin”— instead of what Germond meant in questioning Jackson’s “ken” — his expertise and understanding on issues. The dictionary defines ken:  ” to know, have knowledge of or about, or be acquainted with (a person or thing); to understand or perceive (an idea or situation).

        I try to remember that is it not what I say– or write –that counts. It’s how you hear –or read– what I say or write that counts more. The most effective leaders I know focus on saying what they mean and meaning what they say.  Even when they are farding!

 Today’s ImproveMINT
Edit yourself before you speak or write to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

You may also like these previous Leadership Mints on Personal Communications:
Listening is Literally a Life and Death Issue
Confessions of a Listener: Father I Have Sinned
Podium Power:Talking Less, Speaking More

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