Monday, October 7, 2013

Are you hearing what is being said?

07 October 2013

I often bring up the distinction between hearing and listening. It is an important distinction. In the courtroom it can make the difference between presenting your position in a cogent manner or providing a non-responsive oratory that bewilders observers.

Over the weekend I was exposed to a commercial by Life Alert. I intentionally use the word 'expose' in reference to commercials because I view them in the context of a pathogen – that they infect our brains and can have a malignant impact. Life Alert is the company that offers the communication device made famous through the “Help I've fallen and I can't get up commercials.” Their latest marketing campaign tempers that previous oft ridiculed scenario. The current advertisement includes the tag line “We save a life every 11 minutes.”

I found that claim to be both a curiosity and alarming. I first wondered what is their distinction between providing life saving assistance and that which would not have resulted in death had it not been rendered. The scenario in this recent commercial is of an elderly lady who has fallen simply asking the Life Alert operator to notify a neighbor of the situation.

What I find alarming is the consistent frequency with which life saving assistance is provided. In the physics sense the assistance is provided in a wave structure with peaks and troughs. Daily life doesn't function in such a manner in the immediate sense although when spread out over vast periods such occurrences may exhibit a wave structure. Imagine an earthquake striking an area inhabited by Life Alert customers. If just 11 of them seek life saving assistance it could be a two hour wait [11 interactions at 11 minute intervals] for that one incident by Life Alert's own admission. That is not a wait that I would find acceptable for a relative in a life threatening situation.

The agency hired by Life Alert to promote their service had a daunting task – to promote the service provided that must include a substantial wait. To even know and state that service is provided on a regular and continuing basis as to be able to build an advertising campaign around means the que for service must be extensive. I am guessing at a full day or more.

Action is based upon perception. Perception is a result of the interpretation of a message -- input stimuli. This is clearly observable from the opinions about and illicit drug by high school seniors. While 9% perceive a danger from alcohol use 70% have a lifetime usage. Conversely there is a 60% perception that heroin is dangerous while lifetime usage is 1%. In short, perception matters. Marketing professionals have been very successful at conveying an image that alcohol does not have a risk of danger but is instead an incubator of good times and good feelings.

If you failed to hear the message that there may be a substantial lag in Life Alert providing life saving assistance then you are likely allowing your perception to be skewed by conditioning just as the high school students have about alcohol. That is, you have been taught to make assumptions about what you hear, often using visual images, not to properly interpret what is actually said. Life Alert accomplished this by showing a caller getting immediate assistance for a non life threatening event while still stating life saving assistance may only come after a significant wait. This is important in daily life and should justify your added attention. In child custody proceedings it is imperative that you or your attorney hear and respond to what is being said rather than assumptions as law does not allow for that. In fact, to be enforceable a court order must be “clear and unambiguous”.

If you want to be sure that your child custody case is effectively litigated then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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