A couple of days ago while wasting time on Facebook (yeah, I do that sometimes), I came across a video of a hilarious British comedian named Peter Kay who was doing a skit on misheard song lyrics. This guy cracked me up as I’ve recently learned that I’m not really the self-proclaimed Queen of the ‘70s lyrics lady as I once believed. You see, I’ve been going to the gym (sorry – should have posted a warning before that statement in case someone has a coronary over moi actually working out) and I’ve created a YouTube playlist of old rock ‘n roll faves to keep me motivated while secretly mind bashing the treadmill. So I mouth along with the tunes I’m listening to and have discovered I really haven’t been singing the right words for decades.
This revelation got me thinking about a line in a book I’d read a couple of months back about how we either hear to listen or hear to understand. And it’s clear I’m guilty of simply not paying close attention.
For years we women have accused men of having ‘selective hearing’ and only retaining what they want to remember, while easily forgetting the rest of the request or story we’ve been telling them. Yet it’s not just the guys who have this problem. Almost all of us at times go on autopilot and automatically tune out the words that someone is throwing our way in a conversation. Sometimes it’s because we’re really not that interested in what the other person is saying, or it could be that we’ve got a bajillion other things on our mind and we just can’t concentrate on the conversation at hand.
While hopefully nothing of great importance gets overlooked when we take those mini ‘hearing’ vacations, there are probably times when being slightly oblivious to the words coming our way have a cost or repercussion in our lives. When our spouse, child, friend, or even clients are trying to impart the importance of something that happened to them, or want to share a significant thought they’ve had with us and we’re in hearing to listen mode, that’s when we suffer a great loss. We can totally miss the reason or reasons behind the other person speaking to us. They could be hurting or in pain and we might miss the subtle clues offered by their words. We could also not comprehend that someone is so overcome with joy that they simply want to share it with us. And there we stand, nodding our head as if we’re totally getting what they’re saying… but we’re not.
Sure, we all have people in our lives that drone on and on and… (you get the drift and I’m certain I’ve been one of those people a time or three), but we put up with them because we like them. And yes, they can be as annoying as a mosquito buzzing around in your bedroom at night and you can’t see it to smack it and end the tale of misery. But the next time someone you care for starts a conversation with you, perhaps you could REALLY try to understand what it is that they’re saying to you. Give them ten minutes of your undivided attention before you slip into the ‘drone zone.’
And business peeps, that’s also something you may want to practice at your next networking event as well. You might actually impress a potential new client by comprehending what their business is all about and what they’re looking from you IF you’re listening to understand.
PS: Here’s the link to the Peter Kay’s skit on misheard lyrics for your ‘listening’ enjoyment. Man, I love British humour.