All Ears. No Listening.

A pile of partially-shucked ears of corn.

Being visually-impaired seems to have enabled me to hone a unique ability to hear. And listen.

The distance that I can hear things from is “so far away” (as typically described with wonder by the so-called normal).

They also seem amazed by the amount of information I can gather from listening in a meeting or to a conversation (yet all of that detail is really available to nearly anyone).

It’s just that the so-called normal seem to not use their ears.

Here are three recent situations I experienced. Each was a reminder that all too often those who have 100% hearing — or at least who appear to be — are 0% listening.

May I NOT Take Your Order?

The pick-your-salad-ingredients trend is a delicious convenience. Salad preparers await customers’ add-on choices before chopping, tossing and returning to a bowl that initially contained only lettuce. I approached the counter.

Salad preparer: What kind of lettuce?
Me: Mixed greens, please.

He reaches for a plastic bowl of mixed greens, removes the lid and dumps them into a metal bowl.

Salad preparer: What do you want on it?
Me: Care….(the first half of “carrots”)

Salad preparer: What else? (he reaches for the carrots)
Me: Gray…(the start of grape tomatoes)

Salad preparer: What next? (he puts the carrots on the lettuce)
Me: Brock…(the first syllable of broccoli)

Salad preparer: What next? (he reaches for the broccoli)
Me: Keen…(a verbal ‘quinoa’ kick off)

Salad preparer: What next? (he puts the broccoli on the lettuce)
Me: Wall…(the beginning of walnuts)

Salad preparer: What next? (he reaches for the walnuts)
Me: Cray…(the front end of craisins)

Salad preparer: What next? (he puts the walnuts on the lettuce)
Me: Um…..ALL of the ingredients I asked for?

A couple of minutes later, the missing grape tomatoes, quinoa and craisins were sorted out — he was convinced all had made it to their final destination.

Question asked and answered.
I really enjoy when my consulting clients are engaged and ask questions. Harry, an executive for a well-known company, asked a lot questions. I usually was able to get a few words out before he would talk over (or full-on interrupt), offering monologues that neither answered his own questions or were relevant to them. His staff shared that he was “working on” addressing the habit. We continued to meet, but I always send Harry a slide deck of key points to ensure he would know how my project was progressing.

And lastly,

Ring, ring. 
Ring, ring. 
Ring, Ring. 
Ring, Ring, 

As I’ve mentioned in earlier Oh Fabled One posts, I love cycling. I’ve learned that crossing bridges can be tricky, especially when pedestrians and cyclists use the same path. Pedestrian groups often walk in a straight line, blocking the path entirely. A bike bell is a universal audio cue that a bike is approaching from behind — please move over. Some of my captains* have needed to ring the bike bell up to 10 times before the pedestrians heard it and moved over.

So give it a try, So-Called Normal!! Just listen a little more and watch what happens!

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*Captain = person on the front seat of a tandem bike; Stoker = person on the back seat of a tandem bike.