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Hearsay - Too much noise

The Halt steps start with Hearsay, we listen to hearsay at a very young age. ‘Don’t play with Billy, he smells.’ Sounds stupid doesn’t it, but we all have been conditioned by hearsay.

Many managers when they take over a team listen to hearsay, a previous manager or a colleague will say ‘Good luck with that team, they always under perform’ or ‘Good luck managing Nigel, he is a bully who will try and undermine you’.

We have all listened and made decisions on hearsay. How many times has that decision been proved wrong? How many times have we trusted hearsay, only to find out that the hearsay is incorrect and the person who told you had their own personal agenda?

There is a lot of noise in the world today, we get news all the time, direct to our devices, text messages, emails, social media feeds. Do we need to know that instant? Not really. There are always important items which affect us personally that we need to know instantly, a sick relative, accidents etc, but do these get mixed up in the noise of the world today.

In the midst of this pandemic, there is so much information that is passed through Social Media, so much 'fake news'. We all listen, we all have an opinion, but how much of the information do we actually need?

SMS text messages for deliveries, appointments, money off offers are now commonplace. 5 years ago, we didn’t get reminders for dentist appointments, we remembered (or forgot) them. Why do we need them today? Have you ever thought why the organisations send out reminders? It is mainly for money, people who miss appointments cost money. A test message costs nothing compared to a missed appointment.

Everyone is after money saving tips, 2 for 1 deal, discount codes, but being constantly bombarded with offers is noise we can ignore. But do we? Each time our phone vibrates or plays a tune, we look at it. We all do it.

Social media takes up a lot of our time in already busy schedules, some people escape to Facebook to look at funny videos, catch up with friends or just to spend a few minutes whilst waiting for something else to happen (catching a train for instance). Just how much information that we look at in those few minutes is important to us? Adverts telling us that the latest multi-purpose cleaner will transform our lives, with comments that we look at and believe, even though we have no idea who the people are.

If someone came up to you in the street and said, you have to buy this kitchen cleaner, it is the best product ever made and would not move out of the way and you purposely had to move around them, you would be angry. Why was this stranger in my personal space trying to sell me something that I did not want? But then you go home, look at Social Media and think, that looks good, over 500 comments, I will buy that!

When purchasing items online, many people will read reviews on the product and will then decide based on the reviews. These reviews are from people who may never have used the product, been paid to review the product or automated systems, yet we trust the hearsay.

In a business environment, we trust hearsay when listening to colleagues. The most common is ‘They are a nightmare to work with. Good Luck’. You are now thinking that a member of your new team is a nightmare and you have taken on board the hearsay. Did you ever stop and think that the person who told you may be the nightmare, and that the person who you are about to manage maybe in need of support?

We are all conditioned as children by parents, teachers and friends. Supporting football or rugby clubs whose parents supported. Political affiliation, how we wear our clothes, haircuts. In order to ‘fit in’ we go with the hearsay; we follow the noise of the world. There are some that rebel due to the pressures imposed on them, but most follow.

If you analyse the amount of hearsay you receive in a week, you will be staggered. For instance, your sub-conscious will kick in when shopping. A new cleaning product has been advertised, your neighbour said it was good, so you buy it. Did you really need it? Why is it a necessity to buy it?

People are affected by hearsay at a young age. The child who was deemed as smelly in primary school may turn into a great leader, but to those who knew him at school, he will always be ‘Smelly Billy’. Hearsay conditions us, affects us every day and we must learn to stop listening to it, to make our own judgements on facts. When you talk to Billy as an adult, you find out that his Mum left and Dad was not good at washing his clothes, so his clothes often we dirty. This was not a fault of Billy, but the circumstance he found himself in. After finding out this information, you now feel guilty for listening to the hearsay.

Too often, our decision making is clouded by hearsay, we use the noise to make decisions, these are not necessarily the wrong decision, but hearsay always plays a part in the decision.

We can turn off the hearsay, put down the mobile phone, switch off the news feeds, the alerts. Before the smart phone, we lived our lives with less hearsay, our information feeds were a lot less, we did not have instant communication, instant alerts. Was the world a better place? We will leave that for you to decide.

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