I have been thinking lately that more and more people are hard of hearing, maybe due to listening to loud music or noise pollution.
However, I realized that the real issue is that many people just are not listening.
In fairness, educators especially in elementary, middle, and high school focus on what used to be referred as the “3Rs” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. During those school years, we were required to read a case study or book and write a report.
How many of those did we have to complete when in school? Plenty!
I do not know of any educational institutions that teach students how to be better listeners.
According to one prominent study on time spent communicating, the average adult spends about 70% of their waking hours communicating in one form or another.
Of that time, 9% is spent writing, 16% reading, 30% speaking, and 45% listening.
There are many reasons why people are not good listeners with one of major ones being that we listen to reply, not to understand.
There are also distractions like our cell phones, Apple watches, and computers summoning us with different sounds.
In addition, we may not like what we are hearing so we put up imaginary walls and stop listening; we tend to do the same thing when the conversation is boring, or we assume we know what the person is going to say next.
Regardless of the reasons, it is exhausting to keep repeating yourself.
I catch myself questioning who I said what to for the umpteenth time which I find very frustrating.
It is also a big waster which just adds to my angst. “Waste my money is bad but wasting my time is so much worse” is a phrase I believe wholeheartedly.
I have written in other blogs about mindfulness and how it can help you be a better listener.
I also talk about it in some of my corporate trainings and presentations.
Participants agree they need to work on this but when asked about it at a later date, they shrug their shoulders and admit they haven’t been doing it.
As the holidays approach and everyone is with those they may never see at any other time of the year, we should all pay close attention and listen to what these people have to say even if you have heard Aunt Sally’s childhood story or Grandad Ben’s army memories for the twentieth time.
If you care about these people, then remember that these memories are special to them so treat them with respect. You most likely may learn a thing or two more about them in the process.
My only advice is don’t make people repeat things that they don’t want to repeat. As I said before, repetition when unnecessary is annoying. You don’t want your time wasted so why do it to someone else?
By listening appropriately, you not only have a more fruitful conversation, but it also shows respect. We all need and want that; don’t you agree?