Words & Sports

Listening Skills: Do You Hear Jimi Hendrix?

White Men Can’t Jump was an iconic 90’s movie about street basketball. For this post, we are going to pull out and really look at this one line we’ve paraphrased below:

“You listen to Jimi Hendrix, but you don’t hear Jimi.”

We aren’t going to dissect the meaning of every word in this line, but it brings up a great point…

The type of listening you do makes all the difference. Are you paying attention and really trying to understand? Or are you simply just taking in sound.

A lot of people talk about and write about listening skills. Being an active listener. Listening in. Listening more than talking, for better communication at home and at work.

And yet, for all that listening, some people don’t seem to even hear. They don’t “hear Jimi.”

Sometimes, people look like they’re listening, but they’re really not. They’re maintaining eye contact, smiling and nodding, but their minds are wandering. Or, someone might get lost because they’re afraid to interrupt with a clarifying question. Or, a person might really listen, but fail to hear because they don’t have an open mind or don’t understand where the speaker is coming from.

How often do you really let yourself hear something surprising? Something that violates your expectations, changes your worldview?

We live in an age of a lot of talking and not much hearing. It’s easy to think “I’ve heard all this before,” and miss what someone’s really telling you.

Maybe you’ve made a mistake and someone’s trying to tell you so. Maybe they need something and you can help them out. Being able to actually hear what is being said, instead of your own assumptions and projections, gives you a tremendous advantage, both personally and in business.

But listening alone isn’t enough.


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Remember, listening in the workplace matters.