Selective Hearing vs. Selective Feeling

listening-1When I was little, my mother always used to say I had selective hearing. I always thought it was a good thing until I found out what it really meant.

As I got older, I really worked on my listening skills and tried to understand, comprehend and learn from what others were saying.

However, as I entered the professional world, I realized selective hearing wasn’t my problem. It was the inability to have selective feeling.

I found myself resorting back to that selective hearing quality from my younger years, because I didn’t want to dwell on the comment, criticism and negatives coming from people. Every negative affected my work.

Constructive criticism is something everyone should learn from and appreciate. However, everyone seems to have his or her own definition of constructive criticism. 

There comes a point in everyone’s career when you’re going to get the angry phone call, the posted comment or even the passerby who has something nasty to say just to pry out some type of emotion.

Listen to the message, but don’t dwell on it.

If an owner lets angry and hurtful messages enter their brains, it would affect the rest of the company’s productivity. You’re not going to make everyone happy, but do the best you can. 

Company owners have a lot of responsibility sitting on his or her shoulders, and deciding what criticism to listen to is one of those heavy weights. 

In an article from USA Today, the author discusses ways on how to deal with constructive criticism:

  • Control your body language. Don’t clench your teeth or fists or cross your arms while listening. Try to sit next to the boss if he’s offering feedback such as in a performance review. This sets a more friendly, equitable tone.
  • Don’t become defensive. Justifying yourself is a waste of time, as is trying to blame someone else.
  • Focus on the problem. When the speaker is done, ask questions and then rephrase the issue: “As I understand it, you are concerned about (this problem) and you would like me to (state solution). Is that correct?”
  • Hear the complete message. Don’t stop asking questions or talking until the other person agrees that you fully understand the concerns.
  • Keep the conversation productive. If it’s clear the other person is correct about a situation, acknowledge it and offer an apology if appropriate. Express your appreciation for the other person taking the time to offer you feedback. After your conversation if you still believe that the criticism may be wrong, you can state your opinion but agree you will think about the issue.
  • Agree to follow up. To show that you valued the input, offer to meet with the other person later to discuss progress or improvement.


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