50 THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
own home. "We were entertaining a professional group part medical and part academic. A renowned medical man, but one who refuses, strangely enough, to admit ignorance on any topic, began to speak with "authority" about the Far East. Now this was an area in which another of our guests had firsthand experience as well as a long academic career. He made a short but what should have been an assassinating comment. But the medical man was stubborn. He continued to prod our friend from India for an expansion of his comment. And this was the reply that might well be directed at every verbalizer who is a pretender to knowledge.
"If I had a lifetime, sir, in which to try to educate you about the Far East, I should do my best. But, tonight, sir, I am weary of talk that is totally unrelated to things as they are."
There is the verbalizer who abhors the silence that is necessary to listening. These are, for one reason or another, compulsive talkers. They keep going without making the slightest effort to entertain anything that occurs in the environment. They have mouths but not ears.
Only last week, a successful attorney cornered me and asked:
"Say, what's this new term "speedback" I've been hearing about in communication?"
"Oh," I said, "you mean 'feedback.' "
"Yes, that's it! What is it?"
I defined the word for him carefully (and will for you in Part Five). His rejoinder made it perfectly clear that he hadn't listened to a word I had said. He kept right on referring to "speedback," and the noises he made were sheer nonsense.