Authentic listening is a dying art!
Posted: 20 May, 2016
By: Annemarie Lombard
We are in deep, deep trouble……..listening is dying! In the world of today we are swamped with digital information, access various communication devices and social platforms and contest with information overload. The “noise” around us has created a form of disengagement and we are unconsciously switching off to what is going on around us. I see this in business where people miscommunicate all the time because they do not listen. I see this in schools where children have become primarily visual learners and just cannot follow verbal instructions anymore. I see this with my own children – I become the “witch” at home to drag them away from technology for daily conversations and connections. I am happy to be this witch and continue this fight daily. I saw this yesterday working with a service provider. Hours later and rising frustration levels led to my light bulb moment – they just did not listen to my feedback over the phone. I did provide a visual brief too but my elaboration through the listening channel got hijacked somewhere. It landed in some digital noise that was not identified, processed and obviously not used. How much time, effort and energy can we save by just listening? Truly listening? Properly listening? With both ears and a focused approach?
Communication is a multisensory process and a two way stream. It is most effective when two people (or a group of people) are in physical contact with each other, can make eye contact, listen, look and then speak. Then you pick up non-verbal cues, nuances and responses; if you are focused you can respond appropriately. I blame our pathetic state of listening on the digital dragons (my hate name for technology) around us, the speed of which things are going and the information overload we are living in. What are we going to do to keep listening alive?
Through sensory awareness:
• Take 10 minutes daily to just be quiet and reconnect with yourself. Breathe, stretch, walk, think, but remove any “visual and auditory noise” around you.
• Make eye contact when people talk to you – it helps to focus on their faces and non-verbal cues. You will learn a lot more and hear much better. You also show interest and intent this way.
• Switch off your technology when it is family time or sleep time! You can and will survive without it!! I promise you it will still be there for you when you come back to it! (Unless the South African crime statistic makes you the next victim, so obviously store it in safe place…)
• Focus and pay attention when people talk to you! Do not check your phone on the side. Firstly it is rude and secondly you cannot listen this way. The brain cannot do two things at exactly the same moment. The research already confirmed that. Focus, and focus on one thing at a time!
• Give someone a hug! It is the most powerful way to show intent, communication and care. Obviously not the hot girl in the office you have eyes on. I am referring to people close to you as in family or friends.
• Spend time outside. Mother Nature might be our best solution and connection to be more sensory aware and in touch.
• Get out of your bubble and connect with people. When the going gets tough it will be the people around you that will carry you through. Technology is amazing tools but they are cold and dead. They only relay emotions and messages but are not the true message. Please remember this.
Listen, look, touch, smell, taste and move! Be sensory intelligent and truly connect with yourself and others! Let us keep listening alive!