RBG on Selective Deafness


Ruth Bader Ginsburg, quoted in a New York Times article

Another often-asked question when I speak in public: “Do you have some good advice you might share with us?” Yes, I do. It comes from my savvy mother-in-law, advice she gave me on my wedding day. “In every good marriage,” she counseled, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I’m familiar with this technique and have applied it liberally in recent times for a very specific reason which I will not go into here. Suffice to say it can be hard to do at first, but after a few dozen times you get to realise that so much of what you want to rail against turns out not to matter a mere day or two later. It gets easier.