Do You Listen Or Hear?

The other day, my boss and I had our weekly check-in call. After the first few minutes of initial chit chat, we began discussing work and 40 minutes into the conversation, (during which I had given my complete attention), my boss casually posed this question, “Do you have access to tumblr?”

Given the topic we were discussing, I ideally should have caught on to the correct meaning of the word “tumblr”. However, here I was busy working on one of the deliverable, trying to multi-task. When I heard the word “tumblr”, my immediate response without any second thought was, “Oh yes, I brought a few from India”. The very second I responded, I realized my mistake. “Tumbler” (pronounced similarly as “Tumblr”) in India is a drinking glass with straight sides and no handle.

Can you imagine my embarrassment at the goof-up? This is because I was hearing and not listening.

Hear or Listen, What’s the difference?

When we hear and not listen, we create problems for ourselves (evident from my experience) and others around us.

Hearing is easy and does not require any effort. One can hear a person confide and at the same time, watch television and also message on the mobile. However, listening requires your focus and attention. Listening also becomes difficult with overload of information and distraction.

Each one of us have been accused of, “You never listen” at some point in our life.

Most medical schools have a mock interview session for their medical students where some people act as patients and the students have to interview them. This interview is recorded and reviewed for their communication and listening skills and to analyze how they reacted in the situation.

Listen (cc) César Astudillo

Listen (cc) César Astudillo

Listening is the most important skill for today’s IT professionals. You have spent years honing your technical skills but have you given enough time to learn, develop and practice this skill to improve your personal and professional lives? Most positions in the IT field state the need for outstanding communication skills. Technology professionals are now required to interact directly with many different people, both inside and outside of the organization. This is why communication skills, including listening, play a big role in workforce development training provided by Appropriate IT Development Academy (AIDA).

So, how can you be better at listening? Few tips to listen effectively:

  • Let the person finish what they started to say. It is about not jumping in to finish their sentence or divert the topic
  • Give your complete attention and do not get distracted
  • Keep an open mind and do not be judgmental
  • Body language like eye contact, facial expression, posture, gestures etc., are part of being a good listener

Do you remember the time in the mall or a sports arena when you were talking to your friend over the noise of the music or announcement? You shut out all other noise and focus on the conversation. This is precisely what is expected to listen.

“The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.” Alfred Brendel

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