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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Listen Carefully

You can never listen well enough. No matter how hard you try to catch every word, you find yourself missing vital information. I've noticed this in classes I've taken: I diligently take notes but my mind gets sidetracked from the lecture to the act of recording the speaker's words. Then, I have to ask someone else in the class, "What did he say?" My classmate tells me, and we both miss the notes for the time spent discussing my question and my friend's answer. Then, at home, my wife tells me something. I think I heard the information the first time, but, unsure, I ask, "What?" And, I listen again to the very same information but not very carefully because my subconscious has told me I have already heard this the first time. Then, my question becomes, "Now, what did you say?" She explains again, and I listen even less this time. You have many distractions to the listening process. At any given time, two televisions and a phone conversation are happening in my home as I am trying to listen to myself think. Listening to yourself has to be classified as listening, too. You can't hear yourself think, right? Now, if you are attempting to hear yourself (the little voice that speaks in your head), you certainly can't hear anything else very well at the time. Try to listen to two things at once: I guarantee you will lose vital information in the process. One of the transmissions becomes interference for the other. And, the bad thing about it is, you can't even listen to one of the two simultaneously transmitted messages correctly. Which brings me to talking on cell phones while driving a car. Even if your hands are free because you have an earphone or radio conversion, you can never listen to the normal driving communication (horns, passenger's comments, other outside noises) if you are having an important conversation that you must listen to with attention. Your brain chooses to switch its recognition connections back and forth between distractions and important information. Plug that into the vast variety of motor skills you are engaging and the result often spells "w-r-e-c-k." Furthermore, you choose not to listen so much that you build up a tolerance for paying close attention. Have somebody read you instructions on how to assemble that new bicycle you bought for your granddaughter. Not only will you never get the bike together, you will spew floods of very inventive combinations of every vulgar word you have ever heard. And, I guarantee the entire neighborhood will hear your frustration even if they weren't listening. But, imagine a life of everyone listening closely to every single word. The brain would likely melt down, not from the total accuracy delivered by the ears, but by trying to process all the correctly heard information. For example, you would only have to tell your child "no" one time when approaching trouble instead of "no, no, no- don't do that. I said 'no' and I mean 'no'" because the kid did hear you correctly the first time. I am fairly sure you just couldn't process that fact. So, what is wrong with misunderstanding some things because you don't listen well enough? I'm not sure that being half deaf isn't part of the common human existence. After all, don't you enjoy repeating yourselves and having others repeat themselves when it's something you want to hear? Barry White made a living doing this. Do you hear song lyrics correctly? Here are a few lyrics and the way people misheard them.
Michael Jackson's, "Billie Jean"
Misheard Lyrics:
Billie Jean is not my mother.
Original Lyrics:
Billie Jean is not my lover.
Labelle's, "Lady Marmalade"
Misheard Lyrics:
Mow cat choke a lot now, ya, ya.
Original Lyrics:
Mocca chocolata ya, ya.
Jimmy Buffet's, "Margaritaville"
Misheard Lyrics:
All of those tunas covered with oil.
Original Lyrics:
And all of those tourists covered with oil.
The Bee Gee's, "Stayin' Alive"
Misheard Lyrics:
Pig in a sty, pig in a sty.
Original Lyrics:
Stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Traditional's, "God Bless America"
Misheard Lyrics:
Stand beside her, and guide her Through the night with the light from a bulb!
Original Lyrics:
Stand beside her, and guide her Through the night with the light from above.
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