Minute 811: Why Don’t You Listen?

“I’ll repeat myself one more time!” Mrs. Kaplan shrilled. “This is your last chance!”

The teenager sat motionless and failed to respond to her teacher’s command.

“Miss Lieb, report to the principal’s office immediately!” Mrs. Kaplan snapped.

When the principal asked why she had failed to heed the teacher’s warnings, the student replied, “She’s always screaming. I can’t help it — I just tune her out.”

The principal gave the student a disciplinary assignment and sent her back to class. Later that day he met with Mrs. Kaplan to discuss the situation and give her pointers on how to get through to her students and improve her effectiveness in the classroom.

Many people downplay the importance of word choice and delivery of ideas when trying to communicate with others. They shouldn’t.

Words are the major way we express ideas and thoughts to others. One person has no way of knowing what another is thinking, so choice of words is crucial to effective communication. “Would you please?” is more likely to elicit the desired performance than a disrespectful command.

Delivery is equally important. A boring monotone may cause a listener to turn his attention towards a distraction rather than the speaker. A loud or high-pitched tone may cause him to tune out, thereby missing out on receiving the good ideas being presented. Body language and timing can also be used to convey positive or negative messages, to make a point or obstruct it from reaching the ears and mind of the intended recipient.

When you feel you’re not getting through to someone, don’t ask, “Why aren’t you listening?” Rather, ask yourself, “What can I change to get him or her to listen?”

One More Second: Another Thought For the Day

Our leaders have always been extremely sensitive to the basic human need for a good night’s rest. Their motto has been: Don’t do unto others what you would not want done to you. The Chofetz Chaim commented that robbing a person of sleep is worse than robbing money, for money can be returned while sleep cannot. There are many stories of Gedolim who went out of their way to assure those around them a peaceful slumber. (Roiza D. Weinreich, In Joy, p. 163)