Listening Beyond The Superficial

Listening Beyond The Superficial

“I know you hear me, but are you listening to me?”

That’s something one of my teachers used to say to the class back in yeshiva day school.

The New York Times reports on a company that is pioneering the study of “Emotional Analytics.”

Beyond Verbal is helping to “reach beyond the verbal” and listen for mood, attitude, and personality of the speaker.

The point is that if you listen carefully, you can decode a person’s mood–almost like a “human emotional genome.”

Beyond Verbal can already identify “400 variations” of emotions not based on the words chosen, but rather based on the tone and frequency of use.

For example, is the person telling you over and over again about a products problems–and are they getting annoyed that you aren’t getting it!

Through a speech analytics engine that examines patterns of verbal use, we can classify whether a person is dissatisfied, escalating, and so on.

This can be extremely useful, for example, in call centers that service (perhaps some irate) customers.

Also, speech analytics could help us with uncovering deception from terrorists or moles in the government by detecting threatening or nervous emotions that the subjects are trying to hide.

Potentially, this software could be helpful in our personal lives as well in terms of identifying the context and providing the E.I. (emotional intelligence) to understand what a person is r-e-a-l-l-y saying to us, rather than just perhaps the superficial words themselves.

If we can not only hear someone else, but listen better and perceive more precisely what they are trying to tell us and what they are feeling, then we can problem-solve and resolve situations better and more quickly.

Software like this could definitely help keep me out of the doghouse at home. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>The Implications of Nonverbal Communications


“Only seven percent of what we say is conveyed through words. Tone and visual cues make up the other 93 percent. That is why email messages are so often misunderstood. Ed Muzio of Group Harmonics suggests using email only when you should: to convey facts and data, and when no emotion or sensitive issues are involved.

In the past 12 months alone, I’ve seen e-mails misconstrued and misinterpreted too many times to count, and then management ends up having to devote extra time to damage control for issues that shouldn’t have been issues in the first place. – Jason Hiner is the Editor in Chief of TechRepublic.

This research is really important to keep in mind with regards to effective communications.

The distribution of information in a message that gets transferred is:
55% Visual
38% Tone
7% Words

Most of the message transferred is based on non-verbal cues. And as we know, these are easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. So communicating clearly and effectively means not only carefully using ones words, but also packaging ones words with effective visual and tonal effect. Moreover, as the research demonstrates, visualization is even more important (55%) than tone and words (45%).

Leaders have to be especially careful with their communications and always keep in mind that others can not only misread or mishear words, but also misinterpret non-verbal cues.

I think part of a good communications solution is to be consistent with one’s overall message and to listen for confirmation of understanding from the other person.

We can’t take for granted that what we mean is what is received on the other end.