As I wrote my new book What? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? and asked folks I knew to provide feedback, I received similar notes from all around the world saying that the book was great – for their spouses. The consistent message was that they, themselves, heard every word spoken and had no communication problems around their listening skills. Ah, I thought, but do they hear what’s intended?
It’s physiologically impossible to accurately hear all that our communication partners intend to convey. Here are some reasons why:
Are you getting the picture here? Assured understanding is not even close to possible. Yet most of us assume we hear accurately. Sure, we hear the words. But do we understand what’s meant?
When my new book What? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? came out, I got notes from folks around the world telling me they listen accurately. And I wonder if they recognize the difference between hearing words spoken vs hearing what’s intended.
It’s physiologically impossible to accurately hear what our communication partner intends us to hear. We have biases, filters, triggers, assumptions, and habits that get in the way. And people don’t accurately represent what they mean for us to hear, leaving out details that they assume will be understood and aren’t, or choosing words that have different meanings for listeners. Or the situation we find ourselves in has any range of situational biases that make it difficult. We hear according to our education, family history, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, ethnicity…..
Are you getting the picture here? Not even close to possible. So what is it we are defending? What is so important about believing we hear what’s intended when we don’t – and it’s not even possible?
My new book breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we hear, why we don’t, where we have problems (lots of assessments and fun exercises), and ways to fix it. Lots of funny examples of just plain dumb conversations between really smart people. And my snarky personality leads you through the process.
Contact me with questions about how to hear others without biases. or how to talk so others will hear what you intend to convey. And, I’ve designed some very affordable learning tools to help you figure out how to know exactly your particular ‘brand’ of bias, as well as one to lead you through the process of diminishing your biases and enhancing your ability to hear others. Let’s make ‘hearing what’s intended’ the new buzz phrase. Because if we all can hear what’s intended, we can make a huge difference in the world.
Sharon Drew Morgen October 29th, 2014