Heckling and Hecklers

Hecklers make me think of telemarketers. Both are unwanted, not well respected and get treated meanly by the people they communicate with. In the case of hecklers, they do ask for it (literally). Though, I’m not sure about the mean part. They do speak right up and ask for some kind of feedback from whoever they heckle.

It may be the heckler isn’t just being mean. Could they be trying to pick up a lagging speech or live show? Could they be making a relevant point which has been overlooked, deliberately or not? Could they be paid to heckle in order to keep the conversation flowing and bring sympathy and understanding to the speaker who has to deal with the ever so annoying heckler? A heckler can be a lot of things to a lot of people. It was interesting reading.

Try writing a scene between a speaker and a heckler. Does one need to come out on top, to win? Or can they both win, at least not ending in attacking each other?

Wikipedia: A heckler is a person who shouts a disparaging comment at a performance or event, or interrupts set-piece speeches, for example at a political meeting, with intent to disturb its performers or participants.


The term originates from the textile trade, where to heckle was to tease or comb out flax or hemp fibres. The additional meaning, to interrupt speakers with awkward or embarrassing questions, was added in Scotland, and specifically perhaps in early nineteenth century Dundee, a famously radical town where the hecklers who combed the flax had established a reputation as the most radical and belligerent element in the workforce. In the heckling factory, one heckler would read out the day’s news while the others worked, to the accompaniment of interruptions and furious debate.

Heckling was a major part of the vaudeville theater. Sometimes it was incorporated into the play. Milton Berle’s weekly TV variety series in the 1960s featured a heckler named Sidney Spritzer (German/Yiddish for “Squirter”) played by Borscht Belt comic Irving Benson. In the 1970s and 1980s, The Muppet Show, which was also built around a vaudeville theme, featured two hecklers, Statler & Waldorf (two old men named after famous hotels). Heckles are now particularly likely to be heard at stand-up comedy performances, to unsettle or compete with the performer.

Extra Resources:

Cubing to Combat Writer’s Block

From PR Builder: Strategies to Combat Writer’s Block

1. Cubing

In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints—hence the name.

• Describe the topic (what is it?);
• Compare it (what is it like or unlike?);
• Associate it (what does it make you think of?);
• Analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?);
• Apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).

Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.

A similar technique is to explore three perspectives: The first is to describe the topic and its features, its constituent parts, and its challenges, and to compare and contrast it with other topics. The second is to trace the history of the topic and the influences on it throughout that history, and the topic’s evolution. The third is to map the topic to similar contemporary topics as well as to its influences, and to topics that it influences.

How to Ask for What you Want

This is quoted from the John Chow blog:

It’s All About Posture and Control

In the PR business, perception is everything and service will always go to the site or blog that the PR rep perceived as better for the show. If you come across as unsure of yourself or on the verge of begging, you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t be getting an invite. The last thing a PR rep wants to deal with is an inexperienced newbie at her show.

It’s all about posture and control. If you wanted to be treated like a somebody, then you have act like a somebody. While it might seem the best way to go about asking for something is to be really nice about it, in real life, being nice usually puts you in last place. This is not to say that you should be a mean bitch. That would be stupid. What it does mean is you should project an image of good posture and control.

When I want something, I assume the position that I am going to get it. Instead of asking, can you, would you or could you, I like to say I require, send it to, put the following names on the party list. People like to see confidences. It’s a natural magnate. An email that display it will always be put in front of an email that is timid.

I do everything wrong when I ask for something in a professional situation. I start by feeling I am asking for a favour. In fact, anything which gives back promotion is not someone doing you a favour, it’s an exchange of favours. Ignore the scale or how you feel about asking. I have to get better at this myself. I should find something I want and start practicing, especially in a situation where I would not be crushed if I am turned down. When you have less invested in it you can give yourself more room to ask in a better way, you’re already starting with a better mind set than feeling you need to ask nice/ beg for it because you really NEED it or MUST have it.

More posts about asking for what you want:

Get-It-Done-Guy: How to Ask for What you Want

Ask Politely and Be Willing to Hear “No”

When asking for help, do so politely, confidently, and humbly, and let them know they can refuse your request—that way they won’t feel pressured. Don’t expect them to say “yes,” but don’t expect them not to. “Please sir, may I have some more gruel?” asked Oliver Twist. If a scrawny orphan boy can ask, so can you. If they say “no,” thank them and go ask someone else.

In fact, expect people to say “no.” That way, if they say “no,” they’re just doing what you expect. It makes you feel powerful, like you’re already Emperor of the World. If they say “yes,” then you can be pleasantly surprised. Of course, if they say “yes,” they were violating your expectations, and as Emperor, you may have to execute them as an example. But such are the sacrifices that come with great power.

Asking for Help Makes the Relationship Stronger

We’re trained to think that asking for help is “using up a silver bullet.” Is it? Unless you constantly ask and abuse someone’s generosity, you’re giving someone the gift of doing you a favor. Think of the times you’ve helped someone else. It feels pretty good. The only time it’s unpleasant to ask for something is when someone says “yes” when they mean “no.” That’s why it’s important to let people know they can say “no” in the first place. You don’t want them to feel pressured.

Your relationship will get stronger when the people you ask for help become interested in helping you and you in turn show appreciation and gratitude for their help. Which brings us to the last step, which is sending a hand-written thank you card.

When you want something, ask. Be polite, and be willing to hear “no” for an answer. Don’t hold it against them if they say “no”, and write a hand-written thank you when they say “yes.”

Respect Rx: Do you Ask for What you Want?

Ask yourself for all those juicy little things you ever wanted. Ask for full-blown permission to be yourself. Ask for all those giganctico dreams you want to live out. Ask yourself to love your body and whole entire you. ASK. And say YES.

Then please do branch out from there to asking for what you want (by way of support or changing your life and world for the better) from your loves, family, employer, Congresswoman, and fellow (wo)man…And if you ask, and the answer is No, go around the corner and ask someone else.

Even better, just say YES to yourself. The results/goodies/rewards/love/acknowledgement/respect you want will show up if your request is from the heart and harmless to others. In other words, you can sprinkle your own magic fairy dust on yourself. Just say Yes and ride off into the sunset already.

Asking for what I want has never failed me. But I have, at times, failed to ask.

WITI: How to Ask for What you Want

How to Become a Better Asker

Here are five tools and techniques to increase your asking acumen:

1. Write down what you want

Here is one technique that can help in situations where you are not clear about what you want. While several other techniques also exist for gaining clarity, many require enlisting the perspective of another objective individual who can guide you through the discovery process, whereas this is a technique you can try all on your own. I have personally witnessed its power many times as I observed the following unusual phenomenon in my coaching practice: When I first have a complimentary introductory phone call with a perspective client and I ask them what they want to accomplish through coaching they verbally describe one set of objectives. If they subsequently sign up as a coaching client I email them a “Welcome Package” that asks them to write down the three short-term and three long-term objectives they want to achieve in our coaching – and what I frequently get back is a significantly different list! This happens not 10% or 20% of the time; it happens over 80% of the time. There is something profound that happens when people take the time and energy to think things through enough to commit them to writing – and the level of clarity is greatly enhanced. So next time you find yourself feeling vague about what you want to ask for, try writing it down first. Even if you subsequently decide to “say it in words” the very process of addressing it first in writing will likely lead to greater specificity and ease in your communications.

2. Get an outside perspective

I you are being held back by your own limited perspective of what you see as possible or of how others will react to you, then seek out someone who can help you see things from another viewpoint, brainstorm options, and role play possible interactions.

3. Stop hoping for “mind readers”

If you believe “You shouldn’t have to ask,” or if your requests are “indirect” and overly subtle, then realize that what you are doing is putting your future in the hands of “mind readers.” You are acting as if those around you can figure out what you want and then supply an appropriate response. By taking such an approach you relinquish your ability to control your own destiny and significantly lessen your chances of getting what you really want.

4. Re-think the concept of “respect”

Believing that asking for what you want is “selfish” is a reasoning distortion often born of a lack of respect for yourself and others. It seems fairly obvious that a lack of self respect can make you feel unworthy or less important than others and cause you to subordinate your own needs and “not ask.” What is less obvious is that not being comfortable asking for what you want can also arise from a lack of respect for others. More specifically, not asking can occur when you don’t respect others enough to share your honest thoughts and desires with them, or you don’t respect their ability to say “No” to you when they want to, or stick up for themselves in the situation. Rather than setting yourself up as the ultimate authority over who’s needs are the most important, or who can handle what in an interchange, try adopting the perspective that each person has the right and responsibly to honesty and straightforwardly express their needs and desires and negotiate an equitable solution.

5. Learn the skills for asking in a way that others can hear non-defensively

If you find yourself fearing how others will respond to what you ask for, or accumulating a history of receiving bad reactions to your requests, then most likely you are missing some key phrasing skills that will allow you to ask questions in a way that doesn’t push other people’s buttons. The good news is that these skills are learnable. For example, a simple but effective way to ask someone to do what you want in a neutral non-offensive way even in a potentially controversial area (e.g., to stop smoking or drinking in your presence or to stop making hurtful comments about your weight) is to simply say, “I ask that you…” – followed by what you want to ask for. Find an “effective communication” class, book or coach to help you grow your communication toolkit and your ability to ask for what you want will expand enormously.

The Bottom Line

Being able to ask for what you want, and to ask in an effective way that increases the chances you will get it, is a crucial life skill. It requires that you know what you want, are comfortable articulating what you want, and have the communication skills necessary to do so. If you don’t take control to say what you want you will be left at the mercy of others who will likely be more than happy to tell you what you need and what is best for you.

Women’s Health: Get What you Want: How to Make the Big Ask

Here are a few things I’ve learned about asking: The minute you’re afraid to ask for something is when you should do it. It’s nice to offer something in return, even if it’s just a compliment or a kind gesture. It also helps to take a few deep breaths and imagine the worst possible outcome. Usually, it’s simply getting a no, which is not exactly life threatening. Whether the result is life changing or disappointing, asking is always a significant accomplishment. Because if you ask me, it’s the questions in life—not the answers—that really count.

Psychology Today: Wander Woman: Strong, Smart Women: Ask for What you Want at Work