Saturday, 19 May 2012

he who has ears to hear

Ever had a boss, employee, friend, acquaintance who struggles to hear? Not in the sense of being deaf, or unable to hear noise as such, but they have trouble understanding what's being said?

A friend of mine, for example, has the same conversation over and over with colleagues. They indicate an understanding at the time, even indicate verbally their agreement, but then the conversation occurs yet again in due course. They just don't get it. 

What's the story here?

There is a highly valuable skill in being able to hear feedback and adapt accordingly. Doesn't sound hard, does it? Maybe it's hard to hear some things when -
  • you don't want to hear them
  • you're focussed on other things
  • there is another agenda / bias / prejudice stopping the message
  • there's a disconnect between your intellectual assent and your behaviour
The skill of hearing is way more than just being quiet while someone else talks. To really hear someone try to tune in to their message. Messages are transmitted using 
  • words 
  • facial expression
  • tone of voice 
  • body language  
In fact, experts will tell you that 90% of all communication occurs via tone of voice, so there's a biggie right there.  Picking up on the emotion being conveyed is sometimes obvious, sometimes not. 

If you can develop the skill of hearing the whole message when spoken to by others, and then adapting your own behaviours accordingly, you will be considered responsive, flexible, and a valuable person who understands and hears what others are saying.

Regular conversation in our house.  
Meyles: Are you listening to me?  
Me: what? 

Just joking...


  1. Oh yes, the difference between hearing and listening is such a big one. I've recently met someone through work who on first impressions was a bit stand offish and disinterested (what we saw through body language) but has since shown they were really listening through their followthrough actions. I think they were probably just concentrating really heard!
    I wonder if we've got so used to all the noise (radio, advertising etc) that our listening skills are suffering? too busy filtering out extraneous noise to really hear?

  2. ah Kirsty-brilliant-listener-PR! Nice to hear from you. Fully agree with you that there's something messing with the general population's listening skills. In fact, my opinion is that very few people exhibit good listening skills. I would count you as one of the few, however!

    Also there might be a case of a person who likes to take in information thru listening (rather than visually or kinaesthetically) who may not exhibit the usual or expected body language behaviour when spoken to. But obviously they've got the message!