Sorry, didn’t hear that …

by Titus Filio

In this technology- and visual-crazy world where looks are given more value than sound, people care less about developing listening skills. We have speakers’ clubs, reading clubs, or star-gazing societies – groups that develop speaking and seeing – but hardly are there any listening clubs or ‘great ear societies’ in the neighbourhood.
Look around – rather listen around – and you think the world has gone deaf.

We’re not talking here about the hearing impaired but people who have 99 to 100 per cent hearing faculty but are very poor listeners.

‘Mis-hearing’ entire sentences often lead to heated debates among people because of the failure of one, or both, to clearly listen to what the other is saying.

“Where did you save the file?” the boss asks his staff.

“I finished the report yesterday and I am working now on the …” the staff explains.

“I was just asking where you saved the file!” the boss screams.

The message has been lost somewhere. We are busy and often our listening frequencies are turned off.

Meanwhile schools hone students on the ability to read, speak and write. Speaking contests abound, best speakers are awarded, but less emphasis is given to listening.

It is rare to find a ‘listening competition’ although teachers know that listening skills is as powerful as speaking skills. In fact both skills can hardly be separated as the best speakers are often the real best listeners.

Foreign language fluency ratings are usually scored on the S-R-W scale (speak, read and write) and thus one is deemed proficient in a language, say English for example, if he or she can speak, read and write in that language properly.

But can he or she really listen to, and listen in, English?

We all think that we’ll be fine in Australia where English is the official language. But in a county with a thousand-and-more English accents, a great deal of good listening is required.

Employers should put that in their recruitment selection criteria: Candidate must have proven ability to be a good listener.
The average person talks and looks more than twice as much as they listen. Even TV news networks use more graphics and video (including the morbid) to capture audiences maybe because people tend to listen less to news and watch it more.

Didn’t you notice that most people who buy mobile phones focus on design and apps, internet and photo-capture tools, but hardly check on the sound quality of the phone’s reception?

When buying, why is it that we test-drive cars but we don’t ‘test-hear’ mobile phones? Seriously. We rarely see a buyer bringing the mobile phone a kilometre away from the shop and having a shop attendant call that phone for the buyer to hear if the sound quality of the mobile phone is good.

Listening is taking the backseat.

But listening is way beyond the act of mere hearing. Listening is grasping the thought behind what is being said by the other. Listening is understanding. When we miss listening to the important lines, we miss the message entirely and we respond inappropriately.

I never liked ice on my cola whenever I order at a fastfood joint. The thing is they always put too much ice so I would tell an eager fastfood crew “please, no ice on the cola…”

“No problem,” the fastfood crew responds. They work out the order, zoom, zing, bang and when the cola was handed to me – voila! – it was bubbling with ice.

“I just told you I didn’t want ice on the cola,” I wanted to scream.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t hear that.”

Ever encountered someone who forgets using his ears?

“So how was the party?” I asked a friend.

“Oh great, the company just gave me a raise!” came his quick reply.

In such cases, often people’s minds are clouded because they wanted to say something first before listening to the other party.

Medical researchers say it is the daily distractions that make us poor listeners. Here’s what I got from We are constantly talking. Even when we are listening we are continually chattering in our brain. Formulating an answer, or reacting to what is being said. We all want to talk, but so few wish to listen. We hear what is being said but are we really listening?”


  1. ma. aleng apao says:

    you are absolutely right…pr0blem is there is no such thing as developing skills in listening..people tend to speak m0re rather than listen much to what is spoken…most often the meaning of what u wanted to say is distorted because one hardly listens..sad but true..

  2. I agree. Listening skills is actually one unit/subject organizations have to teach in Management Training/Course these days that we all need to practice.

    I’ve noticed that since the time society embraced technology, media got aggressive, competitions are created for almost everything and we now have names (or acronyms) for various behaviors, sickness, lifestyle choices and more – our senses are overloaded with information or scenarios that our senses cannot cope as well as it should.

    In an attempt to adapt to our time-poor environment, we also learned to multi-task and gradually adopted “impatience” in our daily routine. And of course, sometimes we are quick to assume what the other party is saying because our pride thinks we have the power and insight to capture their thoughts, actions or feelings straight away.

    No wonder al lot of people are craving to be heard. Well, unless they really do have hearing problem. 🙂

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