Listening 101: Skill # 5 of 8 - Ignore the Volume

Listening is a practice that requires skills and practice.  Yes I will probably repeat this a lot until it sinks in for everyone.  In my previous posts we listed other skills:  Eye Contact, Pay Attention, Don’t Rush, and Give Cues.  This skill brings awareness to when you are listening and also how you will respond.

Skill # 5 – Ignore the Volume/Intensity

You may need to ignore the volume or intensity in someone’s voice in an effort to understand the message behind it.  Especially in an argument where you want to match volume with volume, but it is not necessary.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone during a screaming match say “YOU KNOW I SEE YOUR POINT!”  It seems the volume and intensity only increase and they dig their heels even harder into the ground to prove their point (right or wrong).  Most people shout only because somehow they do not believe they are being heard (or possibly obeyed).  It can sound just like a dog barking.  But sometimes barking does not mean there is intent to do harm.  They could just be scared/insecure/nervous/etc.  If you address how they feel, the volume may decrease.


My personal (and embarrassing story)…. 

I was working for an Asian Company who also had Asian employees.  Now I really do not understand the Asian-English accent too well so it was a bit of a struggle for me.  One day, two very polite Directors met me in the hallway to introduce themselves and I shook their hand.  They were Chinese but spoke English fairly well but I still struggled to understand them.  They both spoke very softly but for some idiotic reason (maybe I was nervous) I elevated my voice as if they were deaf and treating them like 4-year olds, “NICE…TO…MEET…YOU…TOO!  SO… YOU… CAME… ALL… THE …WAY... FROM… CHINA?  HOW… DO… YOU… LIKE… NEW YORK?” They actually winced at me speaking and started talking more softly trying to show my dumb ass that they were NOT deaf.  Even my brain was telling me “Stop it, you moron!  They are Chinese not DEAF!”.  But I couldn’t stop myself for some reason.  I felt so stupid.  They smiled at me and then quickly walked past.  They pretty much avoided me the rest of the time treating me like a sweet and rather insane young woman.  And who could blame them?



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