Do you hear what I hear?

Miscommunication. There are days when it seems to run rampant in the workplace, right? Why? Here’s my theory – people don’t listen.  Yep, that’s it.  They hear what’s being said alright, they just don’t listen. Now, before you think I’m splitting hairs or playing with semantics, hear me out; or better yet listen.

Hearing and listening are NOT the same things. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Listening is a conscious choice; it takes attention, processing, even analyzing. You can hear what’s being said without really listening.  As someone noted on the topic, most people tend to be “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing.”

Listening means paying attention to what’s being said with the intention of understanding.  In my opinion, this is the challenge.  With all the multi-tasking being done – answering calls, text messages, emails, contacting customers, meeting deadlines, putting out fires, balancing budgets, managing employees – who in the world has time to listen? And, why does it seem so hard?

Listening takes time and focus. Too often instead of listening, we’re thinking about our reply and are in such a hurry that we just blurt out a response before the other person is even finished. In fact, I saw a quote that nicely sums it up – “Oh, I’m sorry. Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?”

Ouch. Yet I have to admit, I am guilty of committing this offense every now and then; especially when I am stressed. Not good.

We somehow have to make time to listen because when we don’t, it can certainly mess things up. Not listening leads to miscommunication and that can lead to false assumptions, conflict, decreased productivity, mistakes, criticism, finger-pointing, missed opportunities and the list goes on. Not exactly the environment anyone would want to work in or one that fosters creativity and collaboration. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

 Are you listening? Think about it.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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