Samanta was speaking to a colleague of hers. She noticed that every time she wanted to tell a problem of hers, her colleague never let her finish the story. Instead, after hearing two sentences from the unfinished story, he jumped to the chance to give his advice. Seldom his advice was even remotely connected to what Samanta was sharing. This made her feeling frustrated.

Have you ever felt like Samanta? Maybe you were in a need of advice or just someone to listen to your struggles and instead you were greeted by shotgun of suggestions to something you didn’t even asked for.

Unfortunately, this situation is common in today’s society, and it affects both genders!

Our society is full of people like the colleague of Samanta!

And this also applies to us as well!

Daily we must choose between the question would we rather listen to someone or just hear them?

Eight doors which look the same in a room. This image represents the decisions a product manager must make each day.

Daily we must choose between the question, would we rather listen to someone or just hear them!

What does it mean to hear?

We all can generate sounds. It all started from by our lungs, rich in oxygen. The air moves through our vocal folds, where the pitch is modulated. After that the air moves to our mouth and there based on the position of our tongue and the opening of our mouth we generate sounds which we label as words.

Hearing is cheap. We hear sounds each and every day. From sounds of beautiful birds in nature, to the ugly car sounds when we are stuck in a traffic jam.

Do we actually think about those sounds? Do they make a big impression on us?
The short answer is no! We seldom stop to listen to those sounds and we usually move on to the next thing.

Unfortunately, this applies to people too. It’s not unheard of for people who communicate to each other to wonder if the other person heard them and understood what they talked about.

What does it mean to listen?

Listening is a different way of hearing. To listen to something means to want to understand it. That’s why even semantically we say “I am listening to music”, when we inform someone for our current activity. The opposite situation would be if we say “I set a music as a background noise while I am doing something else”.

Unfortunately, with a person the situation is the same. When we decide to listen to someone, our intention is to understand better what the other wants to say. We are concentrated, asking clarification questions and checking our understanding of what we just had heard.

We care for the message that the other person is conveying.

When was the last time you truly listened to someone?

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

Ernest Hemingway

The challenge!

Lets go back to the original question. Would you rather be listened to or be heard?

Do you remember what was your answer when you first read it?

Did it change at the end of this article?

If you answered that you like to be heard and you feel that in your environment, people just listen. What you can do today is to become the person you want others to be. Lead the way by example, start hearing your friends and colleagues more often, what they want to convey, be sincerely curious about their stories, and you will observe, maybe not immediately, but over time, that your attitude will transform the quality of your relationships and you will feel more often heard as well and not just listened to.

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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