For the last few years I remember experiencing people not being able to recollect a conversation or, a said statement from an important discussion, where they were pretending to pay attention. In the middle of a conversation with someone he/ she suddenly changes the topic, again pretending to be listening when not. I myself have zoned out several times when someone is talking, simply due to boredom, disinterest or a preoccupied mind. This happens in a face to face conversation, although a lot more when people are talking over the phone where there is no way to tell if someone is actually listening on the other side.
Humans have been blessed with an extraordinary ability to communicate
with each other without which we would be as mundane as everything
around us. Hearing is a simple act of perceiving sound from the ear.
Unless you are hearing impaired hearing simply happens. Listening,
however, needs a conscious effort. It requires concentration so that
your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening is
rarely taught because educators assume it’s synonymous to breathing –
automatic. ‘Listening Leads to Learning’.
Most people seem to be ‘Hard of Listening’ rather than ‘Hard of
Hearing’. The result of which are ineffective decisions and/ or costly
mistakes on a professional level. Whatever the amount, I am guessing you
would be amazed at how much money is lost on a daily basis due to poor
listening skills. On a personal front it could lead to hurt feelings and
damage relationships. They say that 80% of divorce cases are a result
of poor listening from one or both the partners.
So why does this happen?
Mr and Miss know it all's: We know everything about everything, so
there is no need to listen. What new information can possibly come out
of this conversation? Whatever we know is good enough to rule the world!
Too much too soon: Conclusions are driven out even before a sentence a
completed by the speaker. We live in a world full of too much
information and passing judgements is quickly becoming our second
nature. More than often people listen to react rather than respond.
Multitasking: Time constraints are our daily challenge and getting too
much done all at once is a lifestyle preferred by all. Phone
conversations are compulsorily accompanied by various activities where
the voice on the phone just remains that….a voice.
Fault of the speaker: Yes, some people's conversations are actually
boring, baseless, repetitive etc. There is also a category of people who
speak too fast and do not allow the processing time for what has been
Now how does someone listen?
Listening is an art, it’s a skill that needs to be worked upon and
perfected with time. People who listen while worrying about their bills,
or planning a vacation or finding a new job are clearly failing at it
miserably. So how to get this right...
- Wait for it : Let the speaker complete what he/ she has to say before jumping to a conclusion
- Respond : Listen, pause, process and respond
- Focus : Doing too many things at once can be a recipe for disaster. Focus on one task at a time, slow is the new fast!!
- Keep it open : your mind. There will almost always be something to take away from any discussion
- Show some respect : No one likes to speak to an audience who is
obviously not listening. Listeners let the speaker know they are
listening by asking questions or by reaffirming the speakers message and
that’s a sign of respect
Listening is most desirable and this is where effective communication
transpires. This is how relationships are built, Careers made, memories
created and a fulfilling life is lived. It is an underdeveloped skill
which can be learned and improved. It starts with becoming a better
listener, concentrating, keeping an open mind and giving feedback. A
good listener is valued by everyone as they have succeeded on this road
towards an effective communication.
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