Are You REALLY Listening?!

cellphone usageI have found that a lot of people these days, myself included, do not listen. How could we with everything going on around us, TV, cell phones ringing and vibrating, music, the constant talking, noise, sirens, videos etc. I guess statistics have shown that the average attention span has gone down from 36 seconds to 33 seconds! Ridiculous. I will say that I read well, and so texting is the best way to communicate with me since I don’t check my e-mail very often (twice a day). I don’t know I think it must be extremely difficult to be a parent, teacher, speaker, professor anymore since we can’t pay attention longer then 33 seconds! OH MY WORD!

Regardless, listening is a very important skill, and one in which we all need practice. I usually like to feel heard, and listened to; as do most of us, but rarely are we really heard. We are usually distracted by our own thoughts, our technology, and our own personal history with the person with whom we are speaking to. Our minds think a lot faster then we hear. “The average human listens at a rate of 125-250 words a minute but thinks at a speed of up to 3,000 words a minute.”

Here are some techniques that the experts say could help us do a better job at listening:

  • Put away your technologies (cell phone, tablets, etc.) as in get them out of your sight, and don’t look at them when you’re having an in person conversation with someone.
  • Listen with a purpose of trying to follow a plot of their story (this can be difficult especially if people are speaking rather slowly or get off topic)
  • This is a funny tip I’ve never heard before: Forget about your face. Most people worry about their own face when someone is looking you in the eye talking. People find that they are trying to give correct responses to what people are saying so they’re wondering if they should raise an eyebrow, nod their head, and all of that keeps us from really listening.
  • Practice listening. When you’re by yourself try to listen to news stories on a news radio channel for about 10 minutes, and then turn it off and repeat out loud what you heard to yourself adding your own ideas to what you heard (I do this all the time, and thought I was pretty silly not for practice but because I wanted to share my opinion even if it was shared with nobody. Maybe my dog).

Now let’s talk about listening to children

Listening to children is one of the best gifts you can give to a child but, let’s face it; it isn’t an easy task. A child’s self-esteem comes from being listened to, and taken seriously. So, when a child tells you about their fantasy world of robots, monsters, etc. they need to know that you’re hearing them, and in a way that is non-judgmental (hide the smirks). When they’re upset about something let them; what I like to say: let them “bleed out” (throw a tantrum, let go of their frustrations, etc) without interruption, with love, and openness. It is a fascinating experience listening to children because they have such unique insight to their life. By honestly listening without patronizing your children you will be able to teach your child how to be a good listener themselves.

Good Luck for the upcoming listening opportunities.