We all know it is important to listen. Then why is it that so many people feel unheard?
We live in a society that is constantly connected to technology. There is an expectation that we will be instantly connected via email, mobile phone, texting and other social media. People expect others to be instantly available.
There are many advantages with these advances in technology. There is also no doubt that it adds to the ever increasing number of distractions and stress.
If you think that you are a master of multitasking, have a conversation, answer your emails and think about what you have to do next. Brain research tells us otherwise.
In a 2009 study, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected that these master multi-taskers would outperform non multi-taskers on some of these activities.
They found the opposite: Multi-taskers were abysmal at all three tasks. Actuallly only one of these tasks required multi-tasking. This lead to the supposition that the students who frequently multitask use their brains less effectively.
In the past, many people believed that multitasking was a good way to increase productivity. Recent research, however, has demonstrated that switching from one task to the next,takes a serious toll on productivity. Multi-taskers have more trouble tuning out distractions than people who focus on one task at a time. In fact doing many different things at once can actually impair cognitive ability. The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain most involved with multi-tasking. It helps to assess, prioritise and assign mental resources to tasks. The pre-frontal cortex is also the area most likely to be affected by stress.
Let’s face it, it is so easy to get distracted when having a conversation.
There is the ever present to do list or I should catalogue constantly running in our heads.
Too often there is “I am so busy I haven’t got time to listen to this” or “what do I need to do next” internal conversation.
Sometimes the psychic internal voice says “I know what they are going to say”. “I have heard it all before.” We stop listening. Some say teenagers specialise in this form of listening. From my experience they are not alone. Many personal and work relationships disintegrate due to this particular form of non-listening.
Actually listening requires preparation. I call it a listening mindset. One where you are fully present and totally focused on the person talking.
How do you develop a listening mindset?
Firstly,you need to limit distractions and create a listening space. You need to decide is this the right time for me to have this conversation. What steps can I take to ensure we bot get the best outcomes. You may need to postpone the conversation until you can create this space and answer these questions.
I have always thought of myself as a good listener. The fact is that it has taken me a great deal of time and practice, to really appreciate the skill and the impact of listening. I know when I am listening deeply, there is a hightened level of engagement and a deeper connection. You can visibly see people relax when they experience being heard.
Believe me, the impact on relationships and the quality of communication is well worth the effort of deep listening.
Too many important conversations are had when we are not fully listening. All parties miss out on important opportunities to connect and build relationships. It is small wonder so many people feel frustrated, unappreciated and unheard.
I always keep in mind relationships grow or wither one conversation at a time.
( I am not sure if this is a quote I have read at some time, if it is, thank you. Your words have served me well)