Listening is the most difficult communication skill.
Concentration levels are under assault by an ever-increasing barrage of messages.
Attention spans have decreased.
And we have cultural difference by age, gender, income level, education level, geography, religion, language, country, and region of the world.
In Communication Studies this is referred to as noise, interference, screens, filters or barriers.
Americans tend to look upon the world as an extension of our country.
We all tend to look upon America as an extension of our neighborhood, city or social class. Yet the differences coast to coast and across the world on how and why people listen, how they interpret messages and their responses vary greatly, are almost literally day and night.
When understanding, for example, locals in Afghanistan you cannot lump them in with Iraqi's, who are much different than Iranians or Saudis, and very much different in communication criteria and interpretation than Americans.
The following discusses America’s communication campaign in the Middle East and why it may not be working as intended.
Admittedly the story attached does come from a source I take with a grain of salt (FOX news) and goes much broader than just words or images, but it ties credibility (Ethos) and belief to whether a message is being received as it is intended.
Why are we mistrusted? Why is our form of Democracy or capitalism so foreign? Why can't they join us on our page? Who are we to tell them how to govern or what to believe? How can we improve upon our message or build our credibility in Afghanistan? Around the world? At home?
Why is the US Congress so polarized?
Why are health care forums shouting matches of "us vs them" (dichotomies)?
How can we, as individuals or groups, improve communication and enhance listening skills?
First published 10-12-10