Blog | June 3, 2024

Are You Suffering From Happy Ears Syndrome?


By Perry Rearick, Chief Editor, Follow Your Buyer

businesswoman listening-GettyImages-1150313729

Happy ears syndrome is the tendency to only hear what we want to hear. It is often associated with salespeople but all of us can be inflicted with this problem much to the detriment of ourselves and our organizations.

In sales, it causes us to be overly rosy with our projections and this misleading information is factored into growth goals and business decisions. When goals aren’t reached, plans must be adjusted, sometimes dramatically, especially if the entire organization is suffering from happy ears.

However, this isn’t just a sales problem, consider project management. Perhaps a project manager is required to track and gather materials from client organizations with hard deadlines to make the project a success. Even one client being late with materials could derail the entire project, revenue generation can suffer, and your brand could be tarnished in the minds of those clients who were on time.

The fatal flaw when we have happy ears syndrome is one of listening comprehension.

Here are some examples.


Sales rep closing: So, do you think you will move forward with this plan?

Customer answer: I think we will if I can get the additional budget to support this. 

Project Management

Project manager closing: Will you have those materials in by next Monday?

Customer answer: Yes, I’m sure I can if my boss approves of them, and I don’t get additional work in the meantime.

Happy ears syndrome has us only hearing the underlined words above, when we should be paying far more attention to the rest of the statement. These additional words are red flags, but they also serve as hints as to why something won’t happen.

This week, do a check up to detect happy ears syndrome and take the steps to inoculate your business from it.

I hope you have a great week!