Monday, March 10, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear?

During band practice the other night, we were working on Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy”.  “Come in on the ooo-la-la’s after the second verse” advised the band member singing the song.  “OK,” everyone answered.  In the middle of the second verse, the ooo-la-la’s made an appearance.  “Wait; stop the song, that comes in after the second verse.” “That was the second verse where we came in,” was the response.  “No, come in after the second verse.” “Oh, you mean after the second verse…How about you give us a head nod?” You’d think they all had it figured out.  Ooo-la-la’s came in late and no head nod.  Sitting behind the keyboards, with no microphone, all I could do was laugh at these guys clearly not listening to each other!

While it was comical watching this interaction continue on, this is no different from what goes on around us on a daily basis.  I even remember times where my parents were having a conversation and at certain points in the conversation, the one that was not talking would throw in an appropriately timed, “yes?” or “is that so” or “what do you mean”.  For the casual observer, it looked like the two of them were paying close attention to each other.  However, afterwards, my brothers and I would comment as if they were really listening to each other.  There have been meetings at work, at the onset of a project, where I ask if everyone there understands what I expected of them and do they know what they are supposed to do.  “Yes”, “of course”, “no problem” is the response.  As soon as everyone leaves the meeting, they have forgotten what they agreed to, or better yet, never really listened to what they committed.  In one-on-one conversations, you know when the other person stops listening when their eyes start to glaze over.  OK, and to be fair, my mind has been known to wander onto other topics when listening to someone else either drone on or discuss something that does not interest me.

I realize that it is probably better to let someone know that you have stopped paying attention…whether they are taking too long to make the point, or you have lost interest in what they are talking about, or they are unclear in what they are saying.  Have we become so polite, that we would rather give the façade that we are listening?  Back to band practice; once everyone took a deep breathe, they were all able to communicate on when everyone one was supposed to come in on the song.  Naturally, we had a clean run through on the song… 

Do you have any related stories to share?