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They hear but they just don't listen!

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Fighting like ‘cats and dogs’, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’. There are many ways that communication, or rather the poorer versions of it, can be expressed. There a many reasons why how and what we say is not received in the way we intended it.

Most of us have sent an email for instance, only to find that what we said has been completely misinterpreted, and indeed, when we ourselves, go back and re-read we can understand that the ambiguity is very obvious …. now. Non-verbal cues to language are picked up when face to face but other communication methods, email, mail, telephone don’t allow us to transmit them and half the message may be lost.

So, being a skilled communicator is an art, we have to actively listen, we have to seek clarification and reflect not only what was said but also how it was said, and often the full meaning is only really understood when we also ‘hear’ what isn’t said.

The art of being a good communicator is to be attentive; there’s a wonderful saying ‘we have two ears, one mouth, use them in that ratio’. Be interested, if what is being said is not of interest to you, you are more like to ‘turn off’. Communicate with language that is relevant, avoid jargon and recognise that we all have our own barriers to effective communication, and that these differ from person to person, perhaps they are physical, a hearing impediment, perceptual, language, gender, or any one of the number of biases we carry around with us.

Being aware of these challenges can help you overcome a number of fundamental communication errors and, like the best of cats, we can learn that if we wave our tails when talking to dogs, they read it that we’re sending an invitation to play and it may well be far too much for them to resist.

Elaine Sullivan

Founder, Elaine K Sullivan Ltd


Training, Coaching and Mentoring

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