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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Kill two birds with one word

By Cpl. Joshua Bozeman | | July 18, 2002

Give me a little bit of time and a pen, and I can explain rocket science to an eight-year old child. But ask me to tell you what I'm thinking at the moment, or what I meant to say when my speech slurs or my words stumble and it will take a good ten minutes for me to explain what I'm thinking or what I meant to say. That's just how I am.

I've been trying to change that for a good while now. Think I'll keep trying for a good while more.

But, communicating effectively is only half as important as listening effectively, and there are more ways to listen than we take advantage of.

Information travels to and through people differently. Some people say actions speak louder than words. Others say 'my word is my bond.' And still others say that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Once information leaves the communicator, you can't always tell how it's going to be translated. Some people don't pay attention to body language or read very often. Some people just don't listen.

So how do you get people to hear and understand what you are saying? Listen.

Most of us were blessed with five senses. For some reason we tend to believe that each of the senses only has one purpose. In doing so, we may miss a lot that life has to offer. A lot of people just use their ears to hear.

I'm reminded of the blind monk walking down the street in an old kung-fu movie, who casually tells his young apprentice not to step on the grasshopper at his feet. The young man, astonished at the old man's awareness of his surroundings, asks how the grand master knew it was there. Out of a gentle smile come only the words, "How did you not know it was there?"

Sometimes the answers are so clear it takes a blind man to see them.

Granted, that's a movie, but stranger things have happened. If a blind man can see with his ears what a seeing man can't see with his eyes, then does eyesight hinder hearing? No. It's not evolution, but in a sense it is natural selection. We have been trained since we first touched our fingers to our noses and said 'smell,' what each sense can do. As a result our thinking has limited them to one action, whereas one sense could encompass all five if we let it.

Music is a prime example. If we close our eyes during our favorite song, we can be swept away to another place. Our minds eye sees things our physical eyes never could. The vibrations or the images in the mind can bring a feeling you can almost taste and smell.

Granted, ice cream tastes a lot better when it goes in your mouth instead of your ear, but truth be known, seeing the world through something other than your eyes can change your whole outlook on life.

If you just took a few minutes to listen with your eyes and see what your ears had to say, then you may learn something more valuable then you can imagine. If nothing else, it will help you become a better listener. Which can help you know what you need to say for you to be heard clearly and for your instructions to be followed to letter.