tv Tavis Smiley PBS June 16, 2017 6:00am-6:31am PDT
. . good evening, from los angeles, i am tavis smiley, tonight first actor allen nol discusses his new book titled "if i understood you when i have this look on my face." >> discovering new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another effectively then benjamin booker joins us of his debut album, withe are glad youe joining us, all of that is coming up just a moment. ♪
and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ allen nol award winning actor known for playing the hawkeye pearce, he's also the best selling author, his latest book titled "if i understood you when i had this book on my face." allan nol, i am honored to have you on this program, my friend.
>> me too. >> good to see you. >> good to see you, too. >> can i tell you how much, how excited i got when i saw this book come across my desk. one of this things that's wrong with our world is we don't communicate well and that's obvious. you got your fingers on the polls of what's wrong with our democracy. >> i resonated with the culture as it was happening. i did not know it is going to be so -- i have been working for a couple of years. what came out all of these years when i spent not only interviewing people in the science program which i did for 11 years, the decades before that learning to be an actor which really involves very things you need to communicate,
listening deeply, truly, you know, you don't just write this stuff, you did not just write it. you teach this stuff. >> yeah, i help started the center that's now called the center of communicative science at stone brooke university. we taught over 8,000 scientists and doctors to communicate better around the country and across the world. we have a lot of experience so i have a lot of experience to draw i think. other than the fact that you did this program, is there a particular reason you draw scientists and doctors. >> it was mainly of the program. i was learning so much from the scientist that i was talking to. the reason i was learning is we did not have a conventional interview. we did it the way you did it which is just a conversation. i saw the real them coming out. i saw their passion coming out
and who ever they were came out. i thought i want science as they learn their science and how they do this and what science is really like. we think and we hear one year red wine is great for you and next year we hear it is not so good for you and we think well, they cannot make up their mind or it is just another opinion. no research study is all in the window. it is always more that's one that needs to be known. i wanted scientists to communicate better that's why i started working on communicating with science. >> if you can get scientists communicating better, you can make it with anybody else. >> my next goal, i work with a friend who's a mathematician at
cornell. he's leading the project to teach mathematicians. steve told me this story, this is a one mathematician talking about others. i am not running down on them. >> yeah. >> you know how you can tell an introverted mathematician from an extroverted mathematician? >> the extrovert is staring at your shoes. [ laughter ] >> we all had that problem. >> redo. >> none of us really concentrate on it. >> the question is, whether or not these tools and these techniques for communicating ii better can be learned by or employed by everyday people. not suggesting everyday of you and i as an everyday people. you are trained as an actor and trained as a show host, probably showing up every night but i have been doing it for a while now.
i am pretty decent. are these tools and techniques that everyday people can learn. >> i don't think you can learn it out of a book. i suspect you can. what i suggest in the book is that ways you can go through experiences that teach you and i think it has to be a little bit like going to a gym. you don't go to a gym once and get muscular and never have to go back. it feels better -- going to a gym feels good when you leave. this connecting with other people getting better at it and feels good while you are doing it so there is an impulse to try it and try to get better at it. you got a lot of great advice as i say i could not great to get into it and read it and given what i do everyday and learning at my assignment. one of the things that i always believe allan, to be a great communicator, you have to be a curious person. >> yes. if you are only interested in
hearing yourself talk or you think you know everything. >> yeah. >> so much of being a great communicator starts with being a curious which means you learn to be a great listener. >> you are focused on something outside yourself. if you are curious of what the other person has to say and things you don't expect them to say. i love hearing something come out of somebody that i never expect them to say. that keeps everything alive i think and makes life interesting. there are some things in here that most of us, you know, professionals have heard at some point or another. but, tell me more of what you learn about the science of body language and conversations. >> yeah, it is very interesting. there is a lot of things that science seems to validate about many of the things that i talk about. a lot of what i say is common sense. but, under that common sense
understooding th understanding that you need to connect with other people, there is a suggestion that you can go deeper than common sense suggest you go. there are something suggested by scientific research that i find fascinating of this idea sinking with another person. a couple of professors at stanfords had groups of people walking around campus and some just walking. at the end of that time, they would take a test that determine how concerned they were at other people whether they were in tune of other people and willing to do good for the other people. it was hired and they rated higher on that. that sounds strange and crazy. there is the common thing of
mimicking the other person's body language. one person is doing this and the other is liable to do it. we have a tendency to get in sink with the other person. if we follow that through and my experiences been that we actually can convey things to the other person that we may not otherwise be able to conveyed and sometimes complicated things and things are hard to hear and we find the right words. we are not thinking of the right words nearly so much of what the other person is getting it. that's the difference. it is so easy to think good communications is megge gettinge perfect message. what's good of a perfect message if it does not land on you. >> that's why i love you. you have the signs to back all this up. i don't have the signs per se
a because i sit here every night and i do this. >> you do it and you see your work. >> exactly, much of what i learn of communicating of sitting and talking to people. what you said now really resonates with me is what i call rhythm. everybody has a rhythm. >> yeah, that's interesting. >> every guest in this program has a rhythm. i am trying through the course of the conversation to find the rhythm. . >> that's really good. the way they speak and when they pause. >> now do you copy that rhythm? >> hopefully, the audience, the audience feels it but they don't know it. the first five minutes of your conversation that i try to find our rhythm. >> so interesting. look at page 22 in my book. >> i will. [ laughter ] >> i already have. this book is in so many ways is
a validation of what i know from practicing this and writing it. i cannot wait to read your book on practically the same. >> you are leading through by listening. >> so i got that about that. i nearly find and a few times in the limited ways that i have to be a leader. i am a boss of other people sometimes -- i listen as much as i possibly can, try to find out what's going on and why am i getting this back from them without saying why am i getting this back. >> yeah. >> what did you learn about communicating, listening and the role that empathy plays in that? >> i think it is essential. i don't think you can communicate very well at least without empathy. i use my own version of what i mean by empathy because a lot of people think, a lot of people
have different ideas of what empathy is. i think it is important to say what your definition is. my definition is it is a way of trying to figure out what's going on with the other person's emotional life. i don't think empathy automatically makes you a good person or make you sympathetic or make you compassionate. it does not make you do good dhe deed. empathy can help you make some good progress. it is something that i think of dark empathy. >> uh-huh. >> which is using people's emotions against them, bullies. >> exploiting them. exploiting their emotion and getting what i want to do and sell you things. well, there is a whole bunch with -- bullies are good at using your feelings against you. they know how badly.
>> we have a guest in this program of a professor ofli of linquistic. why on the campaign trail of the words he chose and the way he got across why he was so effective. i raise on that to ask, what chapter do you recommend president trump read first? >> in certain ways he does not want to because he knows how to work a crowd and you can use empathy to work a crowd. you can see -- this is not taking a stand one way politically. you can observe in his campaign talks how he will say something to get a response and the second moment say it again to get a little twist until he develops a rallying cry. the thing we go through now, we demonize one another and we hear a word or two and we know what the other person thinks and we
don't bother to find out if there is any depths to it or turns on it that they have. it would really help if we would listen for that thing underneath that we may both have in common. if we had something in common that we both love our country or grew up in the same place. we went to the same high school and anything we have in common. we can at least hang onto that and fie and find out. if we can see and share with each other how we got to the point of view. if i see how you got into that, i can see compassion of holding your opinion. >> the laps poinst point, my fr the point, this is why i represent the book of republicans and democrats. >> you got trouble in river city. [ laughter ]
the book is called "if i understood you when i have this look on my face." my adventure in the yards and science and relating and communica communicate from perennials. best selling author and a great man, allan. great to have you my friend. up next, musician, benjamin booker. stay with us. ♪ please welcome benjamin booker to this program. three years ago he was twenty something working at a coffee shop. his debut received early praise and this month, he released a follow up to the break out album, it is called "witness" and featured guest appearance on the title track. who better on the track than
"witness." >> benjamin, it is great to have you here on the program. >> thank you for having me. >> my honor. i don't know if i ever opened up and read liner notes that james baldwin and john paul sharp. [ laughter ] >> i was impressed but i was taken aback by that. tell me your -- rational for the two. >> well, i was having a little bit of exponential crisis. >> sounds like it. [ laughter ] >> yeah. >> part of writing this album and taking a trip to mexico and isolating myself was of the idea just trying to see who i was without the comforts of home and the people around me and those kinds of things. i think that a lot of me trying to see who i really was. the time alone in mexico was good for you.
>> yeah, very good for me. >> i had to get away from, you know, the 24 hours news cycle that was happening at the time just new orleans and a little stress. sthoo t >> the violence. >> the violence was stressful, i got shot in new orleans right before i left. the city was -- it seems like it was getting worse and worse and heck i can a hectic and i needed to get out there. i think it is good. you need those times to think about where you are in your life and where you need to go. >> i get from listening to your music and reading about you that being an entertainer alone is not just enough. how do you navigate that. >> that's a big part of my album. i kept on thinking about being older, would i be happy of just a song and dance kind of guy? you realize you have this
platform to peek speak to peopl. i guess i want to start to make music connected to people on a different lefvel that can help them by showing them what i was going through. that's what i was look to do to reach out to people [ music playing. >> musically, you want to write an album that says something and be entertaining. how do you mix it all up together? >> if you don't focus on it, it kind of comes, the best album is my favorite album who made by people who are passionate. this album throws in a history of one album and all those kinds of things.
i think that if you are passionate about those kinds of things, it is going to come through with the record. how does one put together of a project that people get that defies all the labels and all the boxes and defies all the categories? >> you have to be honest and i focus on this album and i was watching this interview and maybe it was with maya angelou. she writes like it was her last word. i was trying to express myself in simplest terms as i could. they do market you and put you in these categories to sell records. all i can do is do my best to be honest with people and hope that they'll come. it may not be quick but i cannot do it any other way. >> it happened quick enough.
it may not be over night but it is happening with some of pace and speed. >> how would you describe your sound? >> i don't want to categorize you. >> yeah. how would you define your sound? >> this time i was focused on -- nigeria funk from th the '70s. i listen to that slime record of fresh. i don't know if you are familiar with that one. >> uh-huh. >> this time i was taken a lot of gospel music and combining it with funk music. that's what you will get from this album >> what you just said was harassing to some people >> ray charles got some trouble in that back in the day that was not funk in that area. you are a tradition of faith and how do you see the weaving of those sounds gospel and funk to use your words.
>> well, i am not a traditional person but i grew up in that environment. the thing that i take away most from gospel music is that i mean, you cannot get the kind of emotions from anything else than somebody singing into their god's, you know what i mean? that kind of passion is specific. i think that kind of primitive emotions and that longing for something more, you know? >> i think that's something i try to translate and that's where the gospel is coming in and the melody and those kinds of things. >> i want to dig a little deeper, would you be awe fendoff i go deeper? >> i will anyway. >> i know from reading about your back story and preparing for this conversation listening to your music. i grew up in a pretty strict
environment and i know something about that and of a private conversation before we came on the air. how did you navigate that and put your music out and where folks in our family and folks that you grew up with judge you by the music you put out. >> you cannot focus on people. if you are worried of people judging you, i don't think you will have a long career in music. >> i guess for this album, i realized that when we are talking about people of james baldwin. he's somebody that goes to church early and it filters through his writing. i only listen to gospel music and i realized that was part of my palette and i can try to take
it away but it is always going to be there. i thought i might as well just throw it in. >> it was deep in his writing. >> tell me of this track "witness" and how you got staples to do that with you. >> yeah, i was looking to write a song with her last album. she did me a favor and she performed on the track. it was the perfect person. we could not have a better person. it was important because it is a track about police brutality and those kinds of hingthings. it was important to get somebody where i can point to to show this woman who's done so much and give them inspiration. >> you talked about the project
earlier in terms of what you want to do musically. tell me of the songs and what the take away is when they listen to it from beginning to the end. >> the album is called "white noise." there is a quote in the book that says what we reluctant to touch often seen by the fabric. i think i was confused at the time and scared going into the process and i think that i knew that in order to get to peace or happiness that i was going to go to those dark places. i think that's what this album was about. it was just like telling people that life is about growth and continual crisis of self reflection and trying to get some where. i think it is important to address things in your life that
you are scared of those demons. you are not happy and at peace if you do. >> his name is benjamin booker. well into the future you will hear the name benjamin booker. he's a great song writer and an artist. trust me, i have you on the first time hopefully, not your last. >> thank you, my friend. >> nice to meet you. >> that's our show tonight and thanks for watching and as always, keep the faith. for more information on today's show. visit tavissmiley @pbs.org. >> hi, i am tavis smiley, join me next time for legendary entertainer, tony bennett. that's next time, we'll see you then. ♪