Two ears yet stone deaf: When no one listens

Through my many thousands of years of life, I’ve discovered that people don’t read long emails. They used to, back in the Hasmonean dynasty. Had all day to read emails then…all day. But not so much anymore.

Through these same thousands of years of life, I’ve discovered that people don’t read short emails either.

Pretty much, I’ve found that most people don’t pay attention to most things.

I’m sometimes squarely in that camp too. I’ll push on pull doors and ask a cashier a question, to have him or her point to the big, bold sign right in front of me. Duh!

So I’m one of “these people” too.

I’m not always oblivious–and I think that’s the differentiating factor–that some people are regularly like this more often than not.

But we’re still clueless. We’ll still inadvertently cut someone off in traffic. We’ll still bump into someone in the aisle of the grocery store.

“Sorry!” (not sorry, I didn’t see you, but lol whatevs!) I wrote a previous blog post about going from the military, where you were trained to notice as much as possible, to civilian life, where its people lost in themselves, all the time.

It seems to be a normal thing to walk around in various states of daze.

Where it’s really frustrating is in business.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crafted a great response to a problem, laid it out in careful bullet points, keeping things at an 8th grade reading level…and nothing. First question the audience will respond with is answered in the first three paragraphs.

And even with short responses–where I give a flat “no” or “yes” or whatever. Responses will come in that obviously didn’t notice I said anything.

“But what about…”

“We’ve covered that.”

“I didn’t see where…”

“It’s on page one.”

“I don’t think you considered this…”

“Umm…Are you in the right meeting?”

Reminds me of this Google video–the one where the group leader says they’re done, but everyone keeps trying to meet again because they think they should.

It’s maddening to feel like conversations and meetings are only a carousel of turns making noise.

In the most extreme circumstances of yesteryear, I’ve even taken to repeating the same sentence, but with different intonations, so it sounds like I’m making different points.

Eventually, someone will key in to what I’m saying and genuinely respond.

I feel like we all generally just suck at listening. We don’t know what it is to hear people. We have our way and we want it done that way, and we don’t hear thing else.

Ultimately it’s dehumanizing to others to feel like nothing they put forward is heard or taken in at least for tepid consideration.

So it can start with me. I’ll try and be a more attentive listener. I’ll try more often to know where I’m walking, where I’m directing my critiques or praises, what areas of discussion have already been covered…

I’ll still forget my keys and push on pull doors every few minutes, but we’re going for progress, not perfection, right?

Holla back!


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

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