A Music Lesson in Communication from one of the Best

A Music Lesson in Communication from one of the Best

On a cold, wet and windy evening a few nights ago in Melbourne, acclaimed, award-winning musician James Morrison AM, demonstrated the power of communication at an extraordinary  concert. 

Now in his mid fifties, James’ professional career started in his early teens and hasn’t stopped, taking him all over the world from intimate jazz clubs, grand concert halls, to Olympic stadiums, and even Outback aboriginal communities. 

Leonard Cohen and I on the road to Cooper Pedy

It's an easy, but long nine-hour drive from Adelaide to Cooper Pedy. My partner Diamond loves to drive. It meant I could read and write as we followed the dotted lines to the underground Outback opal mining capital of the world - the REAL 'down under' as the locals like to boast. But I digress.

Moist Eyes

About three hours into our trip I discovered an article on Leonard Cohen - the  influential Canadian troubadour, who gets better by the year (he's in his 80's ). The article was about the last days of his former partner Marianne Ihlen. (They met on the Greek Island of Hydra in the 1960's, when she was a young mother of one and spent seven years together). Marianne was the inspiration for a number of songs including 'So long Marianne', 'Bird on the Wire' and 'Hey, that's no way to say goodbye'.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Marianne was near death. Leonard was contacted about her impending death and wrote the most beautiful letter to her. It read

"Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine."

"'And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road."

Marianne's friend, Jan Christian Mollestad, who was at her bedside said

"She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her. It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. In her last hour I held her hand and hummed 'Bird on a Wire,' while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words: So long, Marianne."

To transpose one of his original songs, 'Hey, Leonard, that was a beautiful and perfect way to say good bye'.



Richard Branson's little known secret

How many ideas has Richard Branson heard over his fifty years as an entrepreneur? Can you imagine the number of conversations he's had? He never knows when the next big or small opportunity will appear. As good as his antennae is, Richard always has a notebook with him. He has 1000's and they are choc-full with goodies, thoughts, names and so on. Hmm, if Richard does that, maybe we should adopt his habit, or at least try it.

My Uncle was 'old school'. He lived a full life and died a few years ago at 93. He kept notebooks too, which I discovered after his passing. They are a rich source of ideas, articles, quotes, names, places, movies he saw, books he read and people he met. The next time he saw that person, he would have a clear memory of their past conversation and facts and observations about them. He kept notes because he cared and wanted to pay the person the respect of remembering past conversations. I've taken a leaf out of his book, as they say.

Thoughts are always poppinig into our minds. Mostly they come and go, but occasionally there are some insightful thoughts or ideas which surprise us with their clarity. By making a written note of those thoughts, we can refer to them and perhaps implement them, rather than let them escape. It's the same with dreams or thoughts that wake you. Write them down. Have a notebook by your bedside. Often, while we sleep, solutions come to us, but unless we notate them, they disappear.


Good conversation. Which is more important? Talking or Listening?

The myth is that if you are a good 'talker' you are an excellent conversationalist.That's only 50% accurate. Good conversation and communication is a about an even exchange. It's about being present when you are with someone, so that you listen as well as hear what they are saying. People can tell when you are simply waiting for a pause, to get your opinion across. Your eyes give it away and your mind becomes distracted from what they are saying. You disengage.

Remember when you are introduced to someone how quickly you forget their name? While you hear their name, you are looking at their hair, clothing, height etc and become distracted by numerous thoughts racing through your head. You're not present.

The key is to say to yourself, 'I'm going to remember this person's name as if my life depends on it'. You become present. You are engaged. It's the same attention you should apply during any conversation; be present and engaged by listening. People notice and remember, and we all want to be memorable,