This post was written by Amy Fenollosa, Director of Learning at The Latimer Group.
Recently I was collaborating with a colleague to create an audio exercise for a workshop on storytelling. We selected outstanding clips of stories to share in class as examples to help people generate their own ideas and learn what makes a compelling story. In one of the vignettes, I heard a distracting background noise and asked whether the sound could be improved. After some masterful sound-mixing, my colleague sent me an updated version. In our correspondence back and forth he said:
“Everyone hears uniquely, so sometimes the enhancements can be subjective…”
Everyone hears uniquely. Of course he was talking about what we each hear on the soundtrack: our sense of sound — our brain’s ability to interpret the soundwaves around us, our capacity to filter out the background noise and understand the words being spoken.
“Everyone hears uniquely” can be applied to our communication as well. We each bring our own backgrounds, our previous experiences, and our emotions to every meeting and conversation we have. The diversity of our experiences creates more interesting, more productive and more successful workplaces. Everyone hears uniquely. Listen to your colleagues — ask questions rather than trying to guess what they hear, how they interpret, or what their response means.
In our audio editing project, the enhancements were subjective — what is clear to one of us may be muffled to someone else. As you develop a message for your next meeting, remember that everyone hears uniquely. How can you present clearly and comprehensively? How can you confirm that people are hearing your intended message? Listen, check in, ask questions. Keep an open dialogue so that you can understand your colleagues and get your message across.