“Look! Listen!”

So… (to start off with a sentence starter that is common as I write this), it wasn’t the intention of these Thoughts to comment on words or phrases that are popular at a particular point in time. But I felt compelled to make an exception for “Look” and “Listen”. You know, like, (sorry for the gratuitous insertion of other mildly annoying phrases), it is commonly the way a person being interviewed on the TV or radio starts his/her response, that has bled into more general public usage.

The problem I have with these sentence starters is that the speaker seems to be attempting to establish a position of superiority. It echoes the speech of a teacher or parent instructing a student or child. For example, “This is important for you to learn so I want your attention, listen up!” It is the learned one talking down to one less important, condescending to impart a little of their important information.

This example is, admittedly, a little over-the-top. The speaker is probably doing this subconsciously and has no overt need to establish a pecking order in the conversation. But there is a concealed order being established, nonetheless. “Look, I’m only going to say this once!” Starting with look or listen implies the speaker wants everyone to stop what they’re doing and put their full attention on what is about to be said. This may be good advice but it comes with a subtle attempt to refer to the speaker’s self-importance.

Or said differently, it doesn’t place the speaker on friendly terms with, and at the same level as the listener(s). There is a theory about teaching children that the adult should get down on the floor with them, so they aren’t talking up or down to the children. When everyone is at the same level, learning increases.

Too frivolous a concern?……