Learn to Speak
By Steve Goodier
A woman was explaining her theory of putting her children to bed:
"I never tell bedtime stories that begin with 'Once upon a time,
'" she said. "If I really want to put them to sleep, I start off
with, 'Now, when I was your age...'" It's nice to understand
people so well that we know just what to say! Here is a mother
who could speak her children's language.
The story is told of the most famous elephant in the world -- a
huge, beautiful and gentle beast named Bozo. Children extended
open palms filled with peanuts for the Indian elephant, who
gently plucked them from little hands and seemed to smile as he
ate his treats.
But one day, for some inexplicable reason, Bozo changed. He
almost stampeded the man who cleaned his cage. He charged
children at the circus and became incorrigible. His owner knew he
would have to destroy the once-gentle giant.
In order to raise money for a new elephant, the circus owner held
a cruel exhibition. He sold tickets to witness Bozo's execution
and, on the appointed day, his arena was packed. Three men with
high-powered rifles rose to take aim at the great beast's head.
Just before the signal was given to shoot, a little, stubby man
in a brown hat stepped out of the crowd and said to the
elephant's owner, "Sir, this is not necessary. Bozo is not a bad
"But he is," the man argued. "We must kill him before he kills
"Sir, give me two minutes alone in his cage," the visitor
pleaded, "and I'll prove to you that you are wrong. He is not a
After a few more moments of discussion (and a written statement
absolving the circus of liability if the man should be injured),
the keeper finally agreed to allow the man inside Bozo's cage.
The man removed his brown derby and entered the cage of the
bellowing and trumpeting beast.
Before the elephant could charge, the man began to speak to him.
Bozo seemed to immediately quiet down upon hearing the man's
words. Nearby spectators could also hear the man, but they could
not understand him, for he spoke a foreign language. Soon the
great animal began to tremble, whine and throw his head about.
Then the stranger walked up to Bozo and stroked his trunk. The
great elephant tenderly wrapped his trunk around the man, lifted
him up and carried him around his cage before carefully
depositing him back at the door. Everyone applauded.
As the cage door closed behind him, the man said to Bozo's
keeper, "You see, he is a good elephant. His problem is that he
is an Indian elephant and understands one language." He explained
that Bozo was frustrated and confused. He needed someone who
could speak his language. "I suggest, sir, that you find someone
in London to come in occasionally and talk to the elephant. If
you do, you'll have no problems."
The man picked up his brown derby and walked away. It was at that
time that the circus owner looked carefully at the signature on
the paper he held in his hand -- the note absolving the circus of
responsibility in the case he was injured inside the elephant's
cage. The statement was signed by Rudyard Kipling.
People also become frustrated and angry when they are not
understood. But great relationships are formed by parents who
learn to speak their children's language; lovers who speak each
other's language; professionals who speak the language of their
staff and clients. When people understand that YOU understand,
that you empathize with their heartaches and understand their
problems, then you are speaking their language! It is the
beginning of true communication.
Steve Goodier's books & newsletter: http://LifeSupportSystem.com.