Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education

Day 4 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: 4 ways to terminate the conversation.

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John Airs’ approach to structured role play which he used in both his drama in education and live interpretation work had a number of consequences which invariably involved stimulating the voices of young people. The following chatter was always impressive; and at its best it stimulated real dialogue between participants, as opposed to the trading of monologues.

Of course, in many cases, the last thing some people might want to hear is the chatter of young people (or indeed anybody else).  Dialogue has the troublesome habit of upsetting various well held and long established beliefs and stimulating a questioning attitude in those who are generating the chatter.  So, here’s a handy guide to help you to get people to shut TF up.  It’s not made it to having the status of principles yet but give it time.

One. Ignore people.  Although simple, this is perhaps the crudest approach.  Just ignore the irritants in the room and they’ll soon get fed up and leave it, with vague doubts surfacing at the back of their minds as to whether they even actually exist or whether their identity has become a figment of their own fevered imagination.  This approach can be made a tad more sophisticated in conversations on line ie on Zoom if you’re the ‘host’ of the call.  All you have to do is innocuously mute the other speaker and they can rant at you in complete silence with no-one able to listen to their ravings.  It’s a bit like a host at a party who’s decided they’ve had enough of your drink-fulled musings on the state of the monarchy and has decided to park you at the bottom of the yard in the outside toilet and locked the door behind you.

Two. Use rhetorical devices such as ‘naturally’ in your speech.  ‘Naturally’ implies that whatever the content of your speech, it is found in the ‘natural’ world and therefore cannot be contested.  The ‘natural’ world in this scenario can be either fearsome or wholesome, it doesn’t really matter: what matters is that the word ‘naturally’ generates a full stop at the end of the discussion and closes down further dialogue.  That’ll teach them to argue with you.

Three. Another rhetorical device is the use of the word ‘realistically’ or its associates ‘get real’, or ‘you need a dose of reality’ or the real world. All of these suggest the same thing and have the same effect: they point to you being stuck in the world of the imagination with no hold on whatever is going on anywhere else.  The concept of the ‘real world’ is especially prevalent in schools where some teachers will wistfully look out of their windows and point their children to whatever is beyond the school gates uttering, ‘When you’re in the real world….”  Some take this a step further and suggest the world they’re in (teaching, the classroom, the school) has something nothing to do with ‘the real world’, despite them being hugely influential on the futures of the very physical young people in front of them. Whatever phrase is used, the effect is the same: ‘reality’ is used to stop debate and cut out the questioning chatter.

Four. The ‘No-Brainer’ tactic.  Whenever anyone is a little uncertain of their proposition in a debate they might resort to the tactic of using the ‘no-brainer’ argument.  For example, I might say, “The monarchy is vital for a modern democracy, it’s a no brainer”.  This means that if you want to contest this proposition, you either have no brain, have no need to use your brain  or are pointlessly wasting your time and brain energy to contest it. Another crude device for sure: but it can be impressive in its rapid impact. 

There are no doubt several other rhetorical ways to get people to pipe down and stop their irritating chatter; I’d love to hear from you with your suggestions!

This blog is contributing to The Mighty (Un)Mute, a campaign aiming to raise £5,000 to support the artistic creation for one of ten Globe Sculptures in The World Reimagined art trail across Leicester. The purpose? To recognise and honour those most impacted by the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans through the centuries to the present day.

The TMC staff team are going to support the campaign by taking part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on the 5th October. If you want to join us on the day and take a vow of silence, then please check out the campaign here. 

Of if the thought of donating your silence for 24 hours is really too much, then you can donate your hard-earned disposable income here.

Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcome and appreciated.

So… come and help me to shut up, once and for all. You know you want to.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

2 thoughts on “Day 4 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: 4 ways to terminate the conversation.

  1. Pingback: Day 5 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: 5 more ways to terminate a conversation. | Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

  2. Pingback: Day 6 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: a severe case of communicado interruptus. | Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

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