Unfortunately, the use of technology combined with the seemingly endless stream of work and family obligations have significantly shrunk everyone’s attention span. As a result, the quality of all our listening has suffered dramatically.
In addition, our good listening role models are becoming extinct. Every day we are being bombarded with people more interested in telling their stories or giving advice than listening to what others have to say. Turn on any radio talk show or television news program that has two or more guests and you will notice how often the “experts” keep shouting their point of view at each other. Their approach might be good for ratings, but there are severe consequences if we unconsciously start modeling their behavior with our family, friends and business associates.
Fortunately, we can all improve our ability to listen. We just have to make a commitment to get better. A good place to start is to raise your listening awareness.
Take a few minutes today and answer these questions:
Think back on all the conversations you had last week. What people or situations brought out the best in you as a listener? Why did you listen better during those times? What was it about the person, topic or situation that motivated you to really listen?
What people or situations brought out the worst in you as a listener last week? Why was it challenging for you to listen during those times? What was it about the person, topic or situation that caused you to be a poor listener?
What can you do this week to be a better listener?
How will you, your co-workers, clients, family and friends benefit if you improve your listening skills?
Much of the conflict in our lives is the result of people not listening to each other. Years ago, Will Rogers made this comment about our government…“Congress is so strange, someone stands up to speak, no one listens, then everyone disagrees.” I believe that statement can also describe many of our personal and professional experiences today.
Making the time to really listen to someone who needs to be heard is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family, friends and business associates. And maybe after you listen to them, they will want to listen to you.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin