Right now in America it can seem like you are hearing one message and other people are hearing a completely different message.
This is actually what’s happening. Algorithms tailor your news, and depending on where you source your information you might be getting completely different facts than other people, to say nothing about interpretation of those facts.
But even if we were all hearing the same message, we don’t all hear it the same way.
Here’s a fundamental truth of communication, that’s worth remembering in every sphere of life:
People hear what they hear, which is not necessarily what you say.
3 Reasons Why People Don’t Hear Your Message
Although word choice is important when communicating, what we hear is influenced by many factors beyond the words used.
Here are three factors that influence what we hear:
(1) WHAT We See
Science has shown that what we see impacts what we hear. The McGurk effect occurs when there is a conflict between visual speech, meaning the movements of someone’s mouth and lips, and auditory speech, which are the sounds a person hears.
The McGurk effect can result in the perception of an entirely different message.
When we layer this with the idea that we see differently even when looking at the same thing, we can understand how its possible to for message distortion to be amplified.
(2) HOW We See
The message we hear is not just what we see, but also by how we see. Each of us looks at the world through different lenses. Those lenses are shaped by our conditioning, our beliefs, our attitudes, and the rules we hold about life.
How we see the world around us determines the meaning we give to what we hear. A person who believes that people are out to harm them will interpret a statement differently from someone who believes that everything happens for their benefit. Someone who looks at life through a lens of their own self-interest will hear something different than someone looking through a lens of global interest.
(3) Emotional State
Imagine you were in an old house late at night, alone. You likely pick up every creak in the floor boards. Perhaps you call a friend to try to distract you in the dark and scary house, but you zone out on some of what your friend is saying.
Your body responds to perceived threats even before your conscious mind is aware of them. When we are in a fear state, our hearing attunes to sounds that might bring us harm, while tuning out other messages.
Your nervous system has one primary function: keep you safe. It tunes out anything that doesn’t feel relevant to that objective. Messages that amplify that fear get through, because it keeps the system in vigilance and ensures they will be ready to act in response to the fear.
If you want someone to hear your message, it’s crucial to create a space in which they feel safe enough to relax their vigilance and open to what you wish to share.
Screaming louder doesn’t work.