Wait for your brain to catch up

I had another experience last weekend with what I call “delayed hearing.”

I called a bakery to place an order for a party. “I’d like four baguettes: two sliced thickly and two sliced thinly,” I told the clerk.

“You want that sliced?” she asked. “Oh,” she said, as she finally fully understood what I had just requested.

On other occasions I’ve heard people say “Huh?” or “What?” as if they were hard of hearing, and then answer the question the other person is beginning to repeat.

The pause is an important part of conversation. Wait just a moment before you respond and you can:

  • Register in your mind what your ears heard.
     
  • Consider the full context, piecing together the words with other cues, such as voice tone and body language.
     
  • Decide whether you need more information, so you can ask questions before you respond.
     
  • Determine the best way to say what you want to convey.

What practices make you a better listener?

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2 responses to “Wait for your brain to catch up

  1. I hope that every person who works at a supermarket deli counter reads this post. I was just complaining about this on Twitter the other day. Here’s what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME: First I say what I want (e.g., “1 pound of turkey, please”). Then the clerk takes the turkey out of the case and INVARIABLY asks, “How much did you say you wanted?” In the space of about 5 seconds, they forget — or, more likely, they weren’t fully listening in the first place.

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