Who’s on First; Are You Listening?

Brad G. Philbrick
3 min readOct 15, 2020

The world will soon witness another World Series; It will be a historical one. The season was shortened and started late. Ultimately two great teams will battle before a world audience. Players display their athletic talents while team leaders showcased their managerial skills and strategy. Baseball has become analytical. Baseball team owners and managers study statistics and use them to achieve better outcomes and bring victory to their team.

Along with all of the analytics and derived knowledge is to communicate it to the players. Because of this, communication and teaching are intriguing and vital to a team’s success. Players need to talk to each other on the field to execute a play successfully. The manager and coaches are continually sending signals to players on what to do and ultimately perform so that the strategy communicated results in positive results.

All organizations need to communicate successfully. It can be leadership making major announcements for all to hear. It can be one on one dialogue between two colleagues. Since baseball is a point of discussion here, the famous Who’s on First dialogue between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello comes to mind. It, too, is a classic, first performed by this historical, entertaining duo in 1953. Of course, it is a humorous skit. But it has important lessons that can learn regarding the art of listening and speaking.

I highly suggest that you go to YouTube and enjoy the skit if you have never heard it before or listen to it again. Now listen to Who’s on First from a leader’s standpoint.

Of course, communication is a two-way street. The effective interface does not take place without proper speaking and excellent leading. Where are you in your abilities as both a great communicator and a superb listener: Consider the following checklist, and answer yes or no:

  1. As a speaker, do you make an effort to be sure your listener(s) understands what you are communicating?
  2. As a speaker, do you stop periodically to ask questions to ensure your listener is on track?
  3. As a listener, do you ask the right clarifying questions to the speaker to ensure each of you is in sync with what your team members communicate?
  4. As a listener, are you listening to all that the leaders speak, or are you only engaged in selective hearing, hearing words you want to hear?
  5. As a listener, do you become irritated and then shut out effective listening and misconstrue what is being verbalized?
  6. Are you a good speaker?
  7. Are you a good listener?



Brad G. Philbrick

Brad earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.