I (don't) hear you.

Ever caught yourself in the company of someone who is talking to you and suddenly realised you haven’t heard, much less understood anything they have said to you?

I developed this unwanted art as a teenager in the company of my grandparents who I visited regularly. All I can say now is I did only 5% of the job I could, I tuned out to 90% of the conversation.

When you have a communication disconnect you are either wasting their time or they are wasting yours. You have two basic choices:

  • Wake up and engage with sincerity or
  • Exit.

In both cases you should also apologise for your disinterest.

I can hear squeals of horror (from those of you still listening) at the last suggestion – apologising, eek.! As a more constructive and more easily applied solution let’s look at some of the things you can do to avoid getting in this situation in the first place:

Keep good company. Avoid people or situations that bore you, people who just say the same thing over and over, negative people, and people guilty of too many “I” statements.

Give them time.
Ensure you have time for the conversations you have. If someone wants to talk to you about something ‘important’ make the time you spend important as well – even if it means setting a later date or time to hold the discussion.

Don’t anticipate a reply. We all know this trap – your mind whirrs with the answer when you haven’t even heard out the problem or the proposal. Well stop it now. No now. Stop it!! This is so unproductive, unless the conversation really is going over old ground. Are you in this conversation or not?

Create empty space.
Strong conversation actually has gaps – spaces where each party is considering what has just been delivered. If the dialogue sounds more like a machine gun then someone ain’t listening properly, it’s an argument not a discussion.

As a final word for those delivering a message – always make sure you have the other person’s attention:

  • Is this a good time to talk?
  • Can you spare me 5 minutes of your time for me to outline my proposal?
  • Can we make a time to discuss this new project?

Would be typical entree’s for focussed and constructive discussion.

Thanks for listening.

6 Replies to “I (don't) hear you.”

  1. Dear Richard,

    One needs to Protect, create, communicate and motivate. Protect yourself from negative people, environments and situations. Create space for yourself and your people, communicate to people and organization and finally motivate whom you are connected with. This is the key mantra to be successful in life. When we use “I”, we want to focus on ourself and try to put our point across and also expect other to agree with. When we use “We”, we try to focus people in the group and try to make agreement based on collective opinion. One should create a group of good and trusted people, because they will not deceive you. I believe when you are good,good will come to you. In the adverse situation,I get more hurt than We.

    1. Dear Ajay thanks for contributing these thoughts – I like the rhythm of space/connect/ motivate.Yes good does come, we never know when however which is where strength and courage to keep doing good (doing the right thing) is required. i have a lot of respect for Eastern philosophies so i am very much encouraged by your on-going support of my posts. Thank you form my heart. Richard

  2. Communication. The foundation of the way we live our lives, and the cause of so much stress if not carried out correctly.
    I love the ’empty space’ concept. Sometimes just by pausing one can easily identify if the message has got through.

    1. thanks for contributing again Mark.do \you think bad radio contributes to stress as well :). Yes I ran a performance mgt course today and emphasized that trying to get out of there too quickly can be the worst thing. A pause is a very courageous but very valuable aspect to bring into our contact.




      cheers Richard

  3. Good post Richard. I would add: This is where high EI comes into it’s own as well. Those with well developed emotional intelligence are( provided their “emotional array” is switched on) more likely to be better communicators than those with less developed EI.

    Interestingly, warmth, friendliness, empathy and trust are all key components of communication and also key components of EI.

    In organizational settings high EI is of particular relevance and is a key determinant of success.

  4. Hi Jim, welcome back I’m really pleased you like this post . Yes EI is a huge part of it as are the components you talk. Your own conversations with me over the last six months in turn built my own skills and focus in those areas and assured me i was on the right track with the sort of matters I now blog about. Thank you for that gift. Richard.

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