I love Chris Farley.
He made me laugh out loud. Not the 'lol' we often text, but actual audible laughter. I need to do that more often.
I think we all do.
I laughed because he so easily did what I find difficult to do. He made light of himself. And he did it well.
I can still remember him grabbing the waist band of his ever falling trousers and wrenching them from side to side and slightly upwards while saying something about 'down by the river...'. Ha.
Isn't it interesting how we can be impacted by the idiosyncrasies of others. The way they move - forcefully or with grace, the way they eat, chew, even swallow. What do you notice?
I observe the way people speak. The way they listen. How they carry themselves and operate in various situations.
At one particular occasion, some years ago, a great leader and friend to me, Ernest Metz, was taking questions at a meeting he was chairing.
The room was filled with emotion and intensity. Important issues needed to be debated. Motions passed. Passions expressed. This was going to be interesting.
I remember hardly being noticed. In fact, I seemed more like a distraction - like a pedestrian on a busy street. It was okay though, mostly because it allowed me to keenly watch the ongoing of the event.
The questions brought forward, ranged between hostile statements and equitable offerings. What didn't have a range was the demeanour in which Mr. Metz responded. Regardless of the varying inflections shared in questioning, he fashioned his sentences carefully and articulately. He was as cool as a cucumber as he was as solid as a rock!
As I listened, distracted by the context of the actual questions, I observed a specific pattern;
He would routinely listen carefully to the question, then repeat it back to the person inquiring (to ensure he got it right) and finally with sweeping katana sword like precision, answer the question.
It seemed effortless for him to do as he had taken the time to process the question so meticulously.
Marveling at what I had witnessed, and wondering whether the person heard the fluent reply, he then interrupted my mental admiration by asking if their question had been answered sufficiently!
Come on, who does that?
Before I knew it he had thanked the person asking the question and was gesturing toward the next persons query.
He had heard the question,
Repeated back the question,
Answered the question,
Asked if the question had been answered, and finally
Thanked the person asking the question.
How legit are those 5 points!
It was inspiring to watch the verbal exchange that seemed so concerted yet unscripted.
People came with questions - opinions framed as questions and downright nefarious comments and all the while Ernie met them right where they were at. He treated them as equals and blessed them with the gift of an honest and upright answer. There was no anger, no sarcasm (another form of anger) - just truth.
We should all be so fortunate to be heard so well.
So, Ernie, if you're out there reading this, please note, you are not only a verbal ninja and an auditory ninja but a communication ninja too.
David J. D'Silva