Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I know you hear me...but are you listening?

I've recently had some conversations with various people regarding the dying art of communication, as I know it. Apparently for the younger generations communication IS the cold, lack of human touch electronic messaging that we see so much of today.

Anyway, I digress from my main point tonight...

How many times do we speak to people and wonder are they even listening? Or how many times are we physically present in a conversation, but mentally elsewhere?

At work today, ok at work everyday I experience this and on really busy days it makes me wish I could reach through the phone and shake the shit out of some people. I book hotels for men who are out in the field, needless to say I speak to a LOT of front desk clerks. I am very much a say what I have to say person, and then I move on.... NEXT.

Here's a typical booking:

Me: Hi, this is **** from *** *********. I'd like to book a single, non-smoking room for one night beginning tonight, it's for one of our employees.

FD Agent: Could you hold for one moment please?

Me: Sure

FD Agent: Sorry about that I just had to switch phones.

Me: that's ok

FD Agent: Soooo what kind of room did you want?

Me: Single, non-smoking

FD Agent: Okkk *insert various mouth noises*, uuuhhhh soooo a single

Me: that's right

FD Agent: and would like smoking or non?

Me: non

(by this time I'm flipping the bird at the phone and mentally I'm having a totally separate conversation, in which I am able to say EXACTLY what I'm thinking. I actually worry sometimes that I may slip up and say what I'm thinking... Generally I'm thinking you stupid f**k, did I not just TELL you exactly what I wanted at the beginning of the conversation...arrrggghhhhh. Then I'm getting pissed off at the "choo choo chaa chaa" mouth noises people seem to feel the need to make when concentrating.... what's up with that, can't you just silently stick your tongue out the side of your mouth?)

FD Agent: uuhhhhh...... sooooooo a single non-smoking ... ooookkkk and how long did you want that for?

Me: One night starting tonight.

FD Agent: and when would they be coming in?

Me (as I am biting my tongue so hard I taste blood): t o n i g h t (Gawd, I wonder how much slower I will have to speak, perhaps I should just draw a picture and fax it? 1 stick man, on 1 bed in a room with only 1 bed and a no smoking sign, with a calendar that has only today's date on it?)

FD Agent: Ok **** (and usually they get my name VERY wrong) sooooooooo that's a single, non-smoking, coming in tonight ........and how will you be guaranteeing the room?

Me: I have a visa that will pay room and tax, I will fax you an authorization

FD Agent: oookkkk and how will you be paying, with a c/c ? what type?

Me: (repeat my above comment) give my c/c number

FD Agent: okkkkk and do you need an authorization form ?

Me: nooooo, I have one already filled out, I've actually faxed it to you while we were talking.

FD Agent: oohhhhh ok thank you then.

Me: thank you , have a great day.

Is it any wonder we get stressed out during the course of our days??? Must we all multi-task so much in our current positions that we lack the mental space to actually concentrate on a conversation and what is being said?

I am also guilty of "not listening", I hear but I don't really listen. I can't tell you the number of times that my kids have come and asked me for something while I've been concentrating on something else and I'll absently say "yeah yeah, go ahead". Then a few minutes later I'm freaking out on them wondering why they are doing what they are doing. Who told them they could do that???? Guess what Mom, YOU DID!!!!! I've learned to give them my undivided attention when they are speaking to me.

We could all improve upon our listening skills. It's all a part of effective communication. Think how much smoother, not to mention how much more expediently things would get done if we all practiced listening better.

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