Answer these questions to see how accurately you hear what your communication partner intends you to hear, and how much business you are losing as a result.
- How often do you enter conversations to hear what you want to hear – and disregard the rest?
- How often do you listen to get your own agenda across, regardless of the needs of the speaker?
- How often do you have a bias in place before the speaker’s points or agenda are known?
- Do you ever assume what the speaker wants from you before s/he states it – whether your assumption is accurate or not?
- How often do you listen merely to confirm you are right…and the other person is wrong?
- Do you ever enter a conversation without any bias, filters, assumptions, or expectations? What would need to happen for you to enter all conversations with a totally blank slate? Do you have the tools to make that possible?
- Because your filters, expectations, biases, and assumptions strongly influence how you hear what’s intended, how do you know that your natural hearing skills enable you to achieve everything you might achieve in a conversation?
- How much business have you lost because of your inability to choose the appropriate modality to hear and interpret through?
- How many relationships have you lost by driving conversations where you wanted them to be rather than a path of collaboration that would end up someplace surprising?
In my new book, Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? I’ve gotten notes from all around the world: everyone thinks they listen accurately. Ah…But do they hear what’s intended?
It’s physiologically impossible to accurately hear what our communication partner intends us to hear. We have biases, filters, triggers, assumptions, and habits that get in the way. And people don’t accurately represent what they mean for us to hear, leaving out details that they assume will be understood and aren’t, or choosing words that have different meanings for listeners. Or the situation we find ourselves in has any range of situational biases that make it difficult. We hear according to our education, family history, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, ethnicity…..
Are you getting the picture here? Not even close to possible. So what is it we are defending? What is so important about believing we hear what’s intended when we don’t – and it’s not even possible?
My new book breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we hear, why we don’t, where we have problems (lots of assessments and fun exercises), and ways to fix it. Lots of funny examples of just plain dumb conversations between really smart people. And trust me: my snarky personality will lead readers through the process. I can’t wait until it comes out next year.
Contact me with questions about how to hear others without biases or how to speak to others about the project your all working on. Let’s make ‘hearing what’s intended’ the new buzz phrase. Because if we all can hear what’s intended, we can make a huge difference in the world.
Sharon-Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions.
Sharon-Drew’s book What? Did you really say what I think I heard? has been called a ‘game changer’ in the communication field, and is the first book that explains, and solves, the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. Her assessments and learning tools that accompany the book have been used by individuals and teams to learn to enter conversations able to hear without filters. Sharon-Drew is the author of one of the top 10 global sales blogs with 1700+ articles on facilitating buying decisions through enabling buyers to manage their status quo effectively.
She can be reached at sharondrew@
10 thoughts on “ASSESSMENT: HOW MUCH DO YOU SUCK AT LISTENING?”
Great article, Sharon-Drew! As an introvert, I am customized to ask questions and pay attention to other person’s answers. My extroverted friends and colleagues simply don’t understand the need of listening…
One of my findings from writing my new book is that it’s actually impossible to hear what another intends to convey. First we ask questions that are biased, enabling biased answers which might miss the mark. Then, whenever someone speaks they are merely translating what’s really going on for them, then our brains immediately delete what’s uncomfortable then do another several rounds of deletions. By the time we ‘hear’ another person (regardless of our intent) we can actually merely hear around 30% or less. Unfortunately, it shows up for us all as ‘hearing’ another person. And everyone seems to be adamantly clear that they hear and others don’t, when in fact it’s physiologically impossible 🙂 In my new book, I not only break down how we misinterpret, mistranslate, bias, assume, etc but how we can get to an unbiased place to actually correct a situation while it’s still happening.
BTW it’s a tough conversation because the professional listening field (they merely teach Active Listening, which is merely the ‘word’ and sound portion of what our ears hear) thinks I’m nuts. But by now, I’m used to offending the conventional as you know 🙂
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