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creativity column

Listening is the key to effective communication.

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I believe most of us grow up hoping that one day when we choose a profession, it’s something that strikes a chord in our soul, permitting us to engage both our hearts and minds. That’s especially the case for Lehigh Valley attorney, musician, and arts entrepreneur, Bryan Tuk. If you assumed those professions don’t have much in common, you’d be wrong. Bryan understands very well the business of modern life and the twenty-four hour a day connectivity in the digital age has dulled one of our senses to the point that it’s now become a rare commodity. Our ability to listen.

Too often when we are communicating with someone, we’re not listening as much as we are waiting for our turn to speak, while possibly looking down at our phones or answering email. I think this is rude. Tuk agreed and said this, “Listening skills are the critical thread that runs through both playing in a band or running a business. The market can shift on you quickly, and you need to be able to spontaneously react to the changing conditions, which is what real musicians do when they play live.”

If hearing is the physical ability, then listening is the skill. “As musicians, the chief characteristic that will keep getting you hired is your ability to hear the band, the bass player, and the guitarist, so that the song you’re playing sits together in the pocket, or if it’s jazz, that the whole thing can transition with the ensemble going in the same direction,” added Tuk.

Karl A. Menninger, one of the preeminent psychiatrists of the 20th century, had this to say on the topic, "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."

Listening also means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body to convey meaning. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. These cues are extremely critical for Tuk in his law practice. To represent a client properly, an attorney needs to completely understand the challenges that clients face.

Tuk has clearly mastered the techniques that allow him to not only help his fellow artists and musicians in his law practice, but also his bandmates when playing gigs to create smooth musical transitions or to pick up the slack for a less-experienced player.

Regardless of what stage Tuk finds himself having to perform on, be it in the courtroom or the concert hall, he knows that while he’ll always be appreciative of the applause following a rocking musical set, the real reward for him will always come from the client whose case he wins.


William ChildsComment