Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

On my KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco) radio program, I do Workovers: People phone in with their work problem and I try to help.

Here, I've been posting edited transcripts of Workovers that might interest my PsychologyToday.com readers. Here's today's offering:

CALLER: I don’t have a high-level job or anything. I’m a receptionist but used to be an accountant and need a little more salary. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been an accountant.

MN: While some laws change, basic accounting hasn’t changed much. Are you more of an accountant or a bookkeeper?

CALLER: Bookkeeper. Accounts payable, receivable, like that.

MN: What would The Goddess say is your grade in bookkeeping skill: A, B, C, D, or F?

CALLER: I’d say C.

MN: Would you like to become a B?


MN: Do you believe that with some preparation, you could become a B?


MN:  Courses take a long time and they’re a very inefficient way to learn because courses are taught at one pace that may not be your pace. And the instructor tries to impart a massive amount of information, some of which you'll never need, some of which, by the time you need it, you may have forgotten. But if you hire a tutor—and it doesn’t have to be expensive, you say you’re a low-income person---If you contacted a couple bookkeepers who have good ratings on elance, TaskRabbit, whatever, and say, “I need a tutor to get me back up to speed in basic bookkeeping but I can only afford $15 an hour,” I’d bet you’d find someone good.

If you hired a tutor for just one hour a week and in between sessions, work on an accounting project perhaps on Quickbooks, which is basic popular accounting software, and noted any questions you have along the way and emailed quick questions to the tutor while saving the questions requiring a discussion or long answer for the session, you’ll likely have, within weeks or a few months, gained enough competence and confidence to land a job that pays say $15 to $18 an hour, which sounds like what you’re looking for. Does that make sense?

CALLER:  Yes it does. It does. Thank you so much. And you know, the dollar amount I’m aiming for is just what you said.

MN: I just was listening carefully: You said you only need to earn a little more and were being paid crap so I assumed you were making $10, $12 an hour and so inferred you were looking for $15, $18 an hour. Just common sense.

CALLER: (laughing) Thank you. (She hangs up.)

MN: There was a lesson embedded in that last part of the call. Everyone thinks they’re a good listener but, in fact, many people aren't. They don’t focus on the other person. It’s a lack of caring. Or they’re so into themselves: focusing on how they’re looking, sounding, and appearing, and feeling. Listening is hard, harder than people think. Of course, there’s a time for you to talk and focus on yourself but when you’re in listening mode, you have a responsibility to focus laser-like on the person. It’s not easy to call into a radio program, to admit your vulnerability, to admit you’re working for $11 an hour. So I felt especially responsible to listen carefully.

And all of us, when a friend or colleague is talking to us about something more important than the Golden State Warriors or pop culture, have, in my judgment, a cosmic obligation to really listen.

If you’re the caring person you claim to be---And we’re all so pious. We claim to care so much about society and people—"Think globally; act locally." Yet in our own interactions, we often act like the people we denigrate. So walk the talk, dude--and dudette. Listen carefully.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

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