Listening, Not Shopping

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Learn how to preserve someone's story with master-listener Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, who offers how-to advice for observing the second annual National Day of Listening on November 27th.

What's the best first question to start a family conversation? Comment below.


Dave Isay

Comments [17]

gloria sheldon from manhattan

I think the most important question we can ask is "What do we all have to be thankful for?" In spite of all the many problems in the world, we still live in the greatest country on earth, and we all have to find a way to keep this great experiment in Democracy we have to also ask how we, as individuals can keep the spirit of our brilliant forefathers who framed our constitution, alive!

Nov. 25 2009 02:17 PM
hjs from 11211

bush the lesser jumped out of the plane without a parachute, thanks for voting for him twice!

Nov. 25 2009 12:26 PM
chris from middle o' the road

great comments Calls'em As I Sees'em. along those lines:

1- Don't you think the the conservatives have totally co-opted (or corrupted) the republican party to force their 'christian' agenda of exclusion and hatred?

2- ya think maybe we went a little far overboard on the bailout?

3- is obama going to make any kind of decisive move during this term in office, or is all going to be 'let's wait and see'

Nov. 25 2009 12:22 PM
Blanche from Jersey City

With my neices and nephews we once had a discussion of "how many people are at this table"? They counted and reported. But I tried to guide them deeper into the question: how many people have made this meal possible.

We got into farmer, truck drivers, store shelf stockers, gas station attendants (someone's gotta fill those delivery trucks with gas). Even policy-makers.

It turned into a lesson about our absolute interconnectedness, and how we cannot live without each other; or at least we cannot live as well.

The "thanks" at that thanksgiving were bigger and broader than anyone might have expected.

Nov. 25 2009 11:58 AM
Blanche from Jersey City

Just a thought--if you have a therapist or social worker in your family, know that EVERY day is a day of intense listening.
So, give them a chance to talk to you. Some questions you might ask:

How has your work changed your view of humanity for the better? For the worse?
How has it changed you; your attitudes, your relationships with others?

What are mistakes people make with regard to listening and helping?

How can we learn to listen to each other better?

What do you think happens to create the magic of healing when one person listens to another? What's really going on there?

Nov. 25 2009 11:54 AM
hjs from 11211

what was food like before chemical laden industrial food

Nov. 25 2009 11:54 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Questions to ask older friends and relatives at Thanksgiving dinner:

(1) What was the price of a turkey when you were a kid?

(2) What was it like to listen to the radio or read a newspaper instead of watching TV or surfing the web?

(3) What was it like when journalist was objective professionals, instead of biased shills for the Government?

(4) What was it like when Congress was filled with Democrats and Republicans who compromised on issues to get the greatest good for the greatest number, rather than Bolsheviks, Maoists and command economy statists (a/k/a liberal Fascists) who are trying to create a one party system and destroy America as most of know and love it?

(5) What was it like when we had actual United States citizens who grew up learning about and loving America as Presidents?

Nov. 25 2009 11:49 AM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

How do I get my relatives to shut up?

Nov. 25 2009 11:44 AM
Gary from Upper Left Side

Here are some great conversation starters at the Thanksgiving table:

1. "So, does anyone know how this turkey in front of us was actually processed at the poultry slaughter house in Arkansas?"

2. "Let's all make a bet on who around this table this Thanksgiving will be divorced (or dead) by next Thanksgiving?"

Please vote on your favorite.

Nov. 25 2009 11:35 AM
Anon from Staten Island

@ # [2] Robert from NYC : LOL I love it! Now THAT's real.

Nov. 25 2009 11:26 AM
Julia Chance from Brooklyn

For older relatives, not necessarily an opening question but one to generate interesting responses:

What's a modern device, innovation or convenience that was invented in your lifetime that you find especially amazing, interesting or intriguing?

I had to ask my parents this for a school project once. My mother's response was T.V. dinners -- she couldn't imagine how a meat, starch and vegetable could all be done in the same amount of time.

Nov. 25 2009 11:18 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Brian, please keep in mind that many of your listeners ARE the older people at the Thanksgiving table. You're imagining a Norman Rockwell fmaily where anyone with grey hair experienced the Depresssion when actually it was the Vietnam War. So this sounds like a one-sided conversation. How about going both ways -- so the generations can learn about each other's issues.

Nov. 25 2009 11:06 AM
Steven Mark from Manhattan UES

Dad, you were a spy in WWII but you've never told us about it. You're 91 now. How about telling us now?

Nov. 25 2009 11:03 AM
Shannon McAvoy from Westport, CT

My new question when meeting someone - What advise would you give your future self -OR- what would you tell your future self is your favorite moment in life.

I also want to thank Dave Isay for inspiring me to document my Father's life story. My dad was raised in orphanages in Syosset and Rockaway in the 40s and has had a facinating life. I sat with him and a digital recorder and learned more about him in 2 hours than I had in my lifetime. We're still looking for his sister and I will be able to share his life with her if we ever find her.

Nov. 25 2009 10:32 AM
Rebecca from New Haven

I don't believe in this silly "avoid politics" thing. Nothing is more amusing than watching my incredibly wealthy, racist, conservative grandmother argue with my middle-class, progressive uncle tipsily argue about immigration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nothing brings us together quite like that, which drives us far, far apart.

Nov. 25 2009 10:30 AM
Robert from NYC


Nov. 25 2009 10:27 AM
Anon from Staten Island

2 suggested topics that might help steer clear of treacherous discussions (politics, relationships, religion...):

1) What personal event—NOT in the family—brought them the most unexpected moment of joy or amazement?

2) Older relatives often have a different perspective on "technology" and new inventions. So what new technology or invention do they see as the most useful, which the least practical, and why?

Nov. 25 2009 10:11 AM

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