Save to Pocket



by Neil Rosenbaum

The first time I heard someone using the term “Heard” as a colloquialism was about a month ago.  I was at a training session I needed to complete as a The UPS Store franchise.

There was a young woman in the class and when the instructor clarified a point in answer to her question, she responded: “Heard!”  I replayed the voice in my head a few times to make sure I “heard” that correctly and convinced myself I had.  Hmmm…what the heck does that mean?

Did I not hear the whole response?…did she misspeak?…I made a mental note to check with my Gen Y children.   They had not heard the phrase used in their circles.  Confusing since they live in Chicago, Detroit and Brooklyn and I would have thought that trendy talk reached them first.

Apparently not, over the next several weeks, I “heard” it several more times, including a very popular show on Hulu.  It was the end point of a very heated discussion on the show “The Bear”.  The female lead in this “troubled Chef creates impact and success” story responds to the angry Executive Chef…“Heard Chef!”  I later learned that the phrase which is leaching out of kitchen parlance stems from the command and control restaurant kitchen culture.  Not unlike the very often used answer; “YES CHEF!!”

This phrase, like so many other ephemeral phrases, really annoyed me.  There are so many business and personal phrases that are just not English in their structure or are real stretches of traditional uses of words.  Here is my annoyance list: (incomplete)
“I feel you”
“on the go forward”
“Let’s parking lot this” (Inc. Magazine’s #2 most annoying phrases of 2023)
“Pivot” (A Covid-19 favorite)

I woke up one morning with the term in my head for some reason.  “Heard!”.  But instead of a pang of “ugg”, I thought: “WOW…wouldn’t it be excellent if we actually did “hear” others, actively and genuinely.  And the response “Heard!” confirms that I hear you, I understand you, I respect your opinion and I will really think about what you said.

From the website “Screenrant” is a definition that makes me drop my hope that it is a fad term and becomes a reality in the home, in our communities and the work worlds.
“Heard” means that one person generally understands another, respects their wishes, and will do everything in their power to contribute.”

We have known for a long time, scientifically, that only 7% of communication is voice, the balance comes from body language and tone. This 93% of what is communicated requires true active attention to the speaker.  Think of “Can I get some help” spoken as “Why the heck do I even have to ask you” vs. “Hey, I’m really tired and I would really appreciate if you would you be able to give me a hand?”.

Instead of listening being a very passive act, one that is hearing a voice, but not receiving a thought, information, or emotion, it needs to be active.  Actively listening, empathically, focused.  Not waiting for the sounds to stop so I can speak.  

When I think of people I have worked with in my career, I can identify those that were playing at listening, those that were just placating and waiting to tell you what they think/want and those that actively listened.  What a great, enriching, engaging feeling.  The best listener that I have worked with is my business partner Dave Casullo, CEO of our company.  When someone speaks to Dave, I relate it to putting a car in neutral.  It’s like he shifts his speaking brain into neutral and focuses all his communications energy into listening.  Very often, his first response is a clarifying question, or a confirmation that what he received is what was intended.  Very satisfying.

This experience is equally important in our social lives, relationship lives, community lives as well as our work lives.  In the workplace we know the importance of engaged teammates.

Engaged employee consistently demonstrates three general behaviors which improve organizational performance:  “Say” -the employee advocates for the organization to co-workers, and refers potential employees and customers.  “Stay” -the employee has an intense desire to be a member of the organization despite opportunities to work elsewhere.  “Strive” -the employee exerts extra time, effort and initiative to contribute to the success of the business ( Baumruk and Gorman, 2006)

Note the use of the word heard below from Phil Chambers, GM at Workday Employee Voice.
“Today’s difficult circumstances are challenging everything in the world of work. Making sure your employees and teams feel that their wellbeing is prioritized, and that they are heard and trusted, is more important than ever before.”


Stay in Touch