“What did you say?” At face value, that brief question, without any vocal reflection, potentially can be taken as someone about to pick a fight, someone that just received bad news, or someone you are trying to hear. We all know people that have some difficulty hearing, whether do to age, illness or simply selective hearing. One gentleman I know, whose hearing has deteriorated with age, often asks that when we are in a group that only one of us speaks so that he can hear what is being said. His ability to decipher a single voice out of all the ambient sounds and from a group of voices has become difficult.
Recently, I was asked a question to help someone out. The specifics of the situation are not important. What is important is that to this person, an issue arose that could taint people’s perception based on someone else’s condition. The question was how do we address this situation and stop it from happening in the future. After much thought and reflection, I realized that the situation, when taken by itself, could be of concern. Andy Andrews writes about perspective and how if you change your perspective, the situation could be very different from originally perceived. Once I applied his thinking, I realized that the situation in front of us could be taken as a positive. If people’s perception leads them to lower expectations, then we have the opportunity to come out looking better by comparison. Sometimes, a potentially innocent comment taken out of context, like the game of telephone, can become something different from what was originally said.
In the example above, if we keep our focus on the bigger picture, some of the smaller issues that arise should be recognized as such and not distract us from the direction we are heading. Similar things can happen in the work place, where a person is involved in an important project. With deadlines looming, they are off working on something with a low priority that can wait until the major project is completed. I know that “in the heat of the moment” we sometimes are lured into listening to the noise that surrounds us. However, just as the gentleman mentioned earlier, we need to pick out the voices we should be hearing and tune out the ambient sounds. Sometimes, the noise is just noise.