Predictive Listening

So I sat down at the ol’ computer and started to think what I wanted to write about for Jung’s Window and nothing deep sprang to mind. I realize I’ve been a little too deep the last few Windows so I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again so I started to run a few thoughts through my mind.

When I write I always picture words and phrases going through my head and usually a path is lit as the ideas come into focus. Some great ideas are forgotten while other horrid thinking somehow makes it to the page. So the question came up again on what should I put to digital and no single idea was any stronger than the other so I figured I would just ramble on a bit and hopefully something will spark some debate or thought. Maybe all I will do this time around is get back to the nonsense I have become so famous for spitting out.

Sitting around a table in Zapata’s eating lunch while talking about various topics and bouncing around ideas, Netguard and I gave the waitress our order and the inevitable question was asked that seems to be taught to every waitress in some secret school somewhere. “Is that together or separate?


Why is that 99% of the waitresses can’t seem to bring the right order unless told 3 to 4 times but they all want to know if the bill is together or separate? I usually let that western sarcastic wit get the better of me and I ask some trite rhetorical question like, “Ok, is he my barfine or am I his? Which one of us do you think should pay?” Or I try to appeal to the greed in all of us and ask something like, “Well, do you want one tip or two?

About that time after I see the proverbial deer in the headlights look of a very confused Filipina I let her off the hook and tell her, “Separate, please…

What is this? Why do they always do this?

Part of it is I’m sure the hierarchal nature of this society in so much that somehow the lowly waitress feels somehow subservient to the cashier and doesn’t want to admit to making a mistake and getting this what should be a simple task wrong. Another part I feel is just the pure laziness factor in which of course it is a hell of a lot simpler to write one receipt than two.

Inevitably no matter what you say it will still be wrong and you need an act of congress to get the final bill separated. Then of course one is frustrated at that point and you let that affect your tip anyway. So instead of a win/win she got a lose/lose. She not only lost money but pissed off the cashier which she was trying to avoid in the first place!

Things would be so much simpler if they would just listen to the customer which brings me to the thought I think this rambling’s about. It is a thing my friend Drummer and I call “Predictive Listening” and is the root cause of so many problems over here.

On cell phones there is a feature you can turn on when texting which is called predictive text. This turns on a dictionary and the software will actually predict the word you are attempting to type as you press the phone keypad. This works in a way that each key of the cell actually stands for 3 and sometimes 4 letters and instead of hitting numerous keys it guesses for example you want an ‘S’ and not an ‘R‘ and so you wouldn’t have to press the 7 key four times and only have to press it once. Once you learn to use this you can text lightening fast.

But when this is applied to listening you have nothing but problems. When a Filipina asks a question they already are thinking in their heads what you are going to say and even if your reply is totally opposite they will more than likely act on what they predicted you were going to say.

Predictive listening is so prevalent in this society that if you don’t recognize this you will never be able to turn the tables and battle it. If you ignore it you will forever be frustrated by miscommunication and have the feeling that all Filipinas are ignorant and just pissing you off by design and not simply in possession of bad communication skills.

Speaking is much different than talking. Anyone can talk. Even deaf people can talk with their hands or write with a pencil or on a computer. Talking is easy. The real skill is speaking so that your message is understood. Speaking requires one recognize all filters one might encounter in-between your message and the receiver. Predictive Listening is the greatest single filter you will encounter when speaking to a Filipina.

So the next time you are having trouble with a Filipina stop and think a minute and realize that if you keep talking you will only compound the problem while if you start to speak to her and use tools like repetition and simplicity you will be better off getting your original intention across.

Predictive Listening; just one more fun part of being in the Philippines!


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