Jun 052010

This is a long video but interesting I thought, and also relevant to politeness theories.
Some stuff I liked:

Everybody has a talent to interact with other people

Other people are always more interesting than oneself

It’s about the warmth and the charm you can radiate because of your positive interest in others.

If you’re liked, people want to be with you, and if people want to be with you they share opportunities with you, and you observe the way they do things and your life can open up. There are opportunities everywhere…

What counts more than talent… energy….concentration…commitment or anything else is kindness

I think we often approach business English as if it’s about skills for selling, meetings, negotiating, presentations or whatever. But ultimately I suspect most students are actually looking for something that’s more related this stuff – so English skills that will enable them to interact as decent, kind, likeable human beings, so they can make the most of life’s opportunities.

STEPHEN FRY: WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN WHEN I WAS 18 from Peter Samuelson on Vimeo.

 Posted by at 4:24 am

  5 Responses to “Stephen Fry waxing philosophical”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karenne Sylvester, BELTfree. BELTfree said: #BELTfree #ELT #EFL

  2. I really, really enjoyed this video.

    But I have to say, I’m not so so sure that our BE students want to learn “kindness” speak – oh, this is such a difficult thing to say, but recently in a conversation with some Financial students, they laughed at me and my P-Cness, telling me they’re investment bankers – no time for being “correct” – deals to be made and done and done with strength of character… etc.

    So, it’s a funny thing… I think a lot of us would like the world to be nice but some people think that kindness is a weakness.


  3. Oh interesting Karenne. Many thanks for raising this.
    Mr Nice or Mr Nasty – who succeeds in business?
    Robert I Sutton of the ‘No asshole rule’ would argue that employing assholes is invariably bad for business. But as I think your students might be pointing out, there seem to be a good few about that do quite nicely.
    But I think it’s easy for people to underestimate the value of personal relationships in business. If someone’s looking for help with a task at work, they’re going to someone who is able to do the job, right? But no, or not according to an interesting Harvard Business Review study a while back (Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks). People generally choose their business partners for likeability rather than their competence or ability – so somewhat amazingly (or not) they’d rather work with likable idiots than jerks.
    Ideally we wouldn’t have to make that choice of course. And there are lots of shades of grey here – so for example, there’s a difference between being kind and being a pushover. Might be good dicussion fodder for a lesson huh?

  4. I love Stephen Fry… sure this may have some relevance to building business relationships, but for me it’s a classic example of ‘grumpy old git’ness… but what he says is oh so true in all walks of life.
    Fry has a high regard for the social aspect of the internet in bringing people together, but isn’t it the internet that made us more introspective? Wasn’t there a greater sense of ‘community’ when we actually opened the doors, played outside, went out in town and still felt safe.
    A lovely current philosophy of the state of society today. Thanks for bringing this to me.

  5. Great to meet you Tim! You’re quite right – there’s a point in that video where he is the ultimate grumpy old git and it’s kind of ironic. There he is moaning away about people moaning away.
    I think the connection with politeness theories here might boil down to the universality to the truths he’s is talking about. From reading your blog at https://www.eslteachertim.com/blog.html, I know you have powerful insights on life and living, and I have the feeling that you are more qualified to comment than any of us.

 Leave a Reply