The term would be “death penalty,” but TV editorialist Emily Litella would hear “deaf penalty.” She would rant on with increasing fury about it until the news anchor would correct her faulty perception.
Instantly deflated but not at all contrite, Emily would smile sweetly and say, “Never mind.”
It was a standard Gilda Radner schtick in the Saturday Night Live phony newscast, and it usually was pretty funny.
Something similar frequently afflicts projects and other human activities, and it’s never funny – at least for the people it happens to.
Mishearing what is said or misunderstanding what is meant can lead to costly mistakes and shattered relationships, especially when the environment is complex and pressured, and the stakes are high.