Monday, January 07, 2008


Have you ever played a game whereby a message is relayed from one person to the next, only to discover that the original message to be communicated does not square with that received by the final player?

Such a game, though simple, contains a very important message, i.e. the importance of listening.

Listening is an art and a skill; it differs from hearing in the sense that listening requires one to be attentive enough to grasp the actual contents of the speech so as to understand it. Listening is a skill, which is gaining currency as one of the leadership skills.

But in real life, every often, one would just listen to the speaker at the beginning of the speech and when the speaker is halfway through his speech, the listener would often lose focus of the actual contents of the speech. Colored by his own perceptions, biases and experiences, no doubt, the listener continues to listen to the speaker but he has already painted his own version of the speech.

The original contents of the speech are lost as the listeners interpret the speech differently from what was supposed to be told, miscommunication of information hence results.

This miscommunication of information could have serious repercussions. As we have discussed using the example of the game, a piece of wrong information could deviate from the original contents even more as it is passed from one mouth to the other.

Misunderstandings in life mainly stem from miscommunication, which may be caused by poor listening skills.

However, miscommunication, which results in misunderstandings in daily lives, may also be caused deliberately by others in order to achieve a vested interest or personal objective.

Every office has shades of ‘office politics’. The key ingredient of office politics is the dissemination of wrong information or rumours. Every office has its grapevine.

Do not underestimate the power of rumours in the office, it can bring an outstanding performer at work, one who is not involved in any ‘office politics’ and does his best for the company consistently and competently down to shambles.

Office politics is a dirty game, as the Chinese saying goes “人在江湖身不由己”, to all of us working, we would tend to be embroiled in office politics somehow.

There is no perfect work as there is no perfect people. Different people at work have different likes and dislikes, work agendas, different means of climbing the corporate ladder.

Some climb the corporate ladder by means of their real hard work and talents, others resort to rumours and office politics to bring their opponents down one by one and achieve their ultimate aims.

Sad to say, man can be even scarier than ghosts at times.

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