Listening is so easy, yet have you noticed how rarely it’s done well? We hear noise and then decide how to react. “You’re not listening” is a common statement, often used by someone shouting in frustration. The recipient is hearing but not listening – apparently. The ‘noise’ becomes a failed communication.

Judge your communication by the other person’s response is a phrase I like. If the other person is not listening, the speaker has a choice:

  • make more noise or
  • change the communication.

Making more noise is easier whereas it takes skill to learn how to change communication. That skill is easily acquired if the communicator is prepared to allocate time to study and practice.

My primary degree is in veterinary medicine where the patients can’t talk (excluding some birds). Yet those patients communicate in many ways. A dog’s bark changes when it has a bone stuck in its throat. If the bone is causing pain, you’re likely to elicit a growl when you gently touch the sore spot. That’s useful communication to a veterinarian.

The essential clue behind referred pain can be more elusive. I remember a friend with severe lower back problems who was having injections to deaden the nerves serving that area. Yet the messages his body was sending did not equate to his supposed problem. I referred him to a physiotherapist which led to a hip replacement. His back was undoubtedly painful but the primary problem was a worn out hip which caused him to flex his back as a protective measure. Fix the hip and his back was fine.

Speech offers more clues in words, tone, volume, timbre. Yet the most useful information rests in their physiology; does their body match their ‘noise’. If the person says they’re excited and their shoulders are drooped, you might learn a lot more than their words suggested. If they say yes you can judge just how ‘yes’ that is likely to be!

At NewGenn we have lots of fun communicating with humans and animals as our products help in such diverse sectors. We’ll be providing hygiene products for the judges, stewards and vets at the world-renowned Crufts 2013 dog show. They have trusted us for years as they know we listen. Many dogs will be present, accompanied by even more humans. We’ll communicate with both, mostly be watching and listening. The fun comes is finding where the most useful pieces of communication arise. If it’s people, was it adults or children? If it was dogs, was it reflected via the people?

Wherever it arises, we judge our communications by the other person’s response. Many people attending Crufts will actively seek us out to learn how their previous communication has evolved into our disease prevention products like the EXeczema Programme and Foam Dog Wash. Their contribution is invaluable and their confidence in our desire and ability to listen is humbling. That’s communication at its best.

If you want to share your views, we’re listening.

Dr Harley Farmer PhD BVSc(hons) BVBiol(path) MRCVS

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