I speak of course only of the public who use the telephone. Those who serve the public in the use of the telephone must have many trials to meet, and, I dare say, are not always courteous and patient. But certainly there can be no case of lagging or discourtesy on the part of a telephone operator that is not promptly rectified by a quiet, decided appeal to the “desk.”
It is invariably the nervous strain and the anger that makes the trouble.
There may be one of these days a school for the better use of the telephone; but such a school never need be established if every intelligent man and woman will be his and her own school in appreciating and acting upon the power gained if they compel themselves to go with science—and never allow themselves to go against it.
THERE is more nervous energy wasted, more nervous strain generated, more real physical harm done by superfluous talking than any one knows, or than any one could possibly believe who had not studied it. I am not considering the harm done by what people say. We all know the disastrous effects that follow a careless or malicious use of the tongue. That is another question. I simply write of the physical power used up and wasted by mere superfluous words, by using one hundred words where ten will do—or one thousand words where none at all were needed.
I once had been listening to a friend chatter, chatter, chatter to no end for an hour or more, when the idea occurred to me to tell her of an experiment I had tried by which my voice came more easily. When I could get an opportunity to speak, I asked her if she had ever tried taking a long breath and speaking as she let the breath out. I had to insist a little to keep her mind on the suggestion at all, but finally succeeded. She took a long breath and then stopped.
There was perhaps for half a minute a blessed silence, and then what was my surprise to hear her remark: “I—I—can’t think of anything to say.” “Try it again,” I told her. She took another long breath, and again gave up because she could not think of anything to say. She did not like that little game very much, and thought she would not make another effort, and in about three minutes she began the chatter, and went on talking until some necessary interruption parted us.
This woman’s talking was nothing more nor less than a nervous habit. Her thought and her words were not practically connected at all. She never said what she thought for she never thought. She never said anything in answer to what was said to her, for she never listened.
Nervous talkers never do listen. That is one of their most striking characteristics.
I knew of two well-known men—both great talkers—who were invited to dine. Their host thought, as each man talked a great deal and—, as he thought—talked very well, if they could meet their interchange of ideas would be most delightful. Several days later he met one of his guests in the street and asked how he liked the friend whom he had met for the first time at his house.