You Never Listen to Me!

Be Respectful Choice Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: Listening is more than just “hearing,” and a skill we’re in danger of losing in this world of digital distraction and big data overload. Stop: What do you hear right now?

By asking you what you are hearing, it causes your brain to take control of the sensory experience, and it makes you listen rather than just hear. According to scientists, that’s what happens when an event jumps out of the background enough to be perceived consciously rather than just being part of our auditory surroundings. The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is ATTENTION. How do we sharpen our attention skills so we don’t have to wait for the “big bang” noise to really listen?

When you actually pay attention to something you’re listening to, according to Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist at Brown University and the author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

“A separate ‘top-down’ pathway comes into play. Here, the signals are conveyed through a dorsal pathway in your cortex, part of the brain that does more computation, which lets you actively focus on what you’re hearing and tune out sights and sounds that aren’t as immediately important.”

Unless our hearing is impaired, it happens naturally and easily. But listening and attention are more challenging. Especially with all the additional distractions and work we put our brain through with all the BIG NOISE around us. But listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the non-visual parts of our world feeds into everything that helps us grow our intellectual, emotional and physical capabilities. Really paying attention and listening is a huge part of the RESPECT value I talk about. In my case, when I’m in a stuck or deteriorating relationship, it is often related to me not listening as well as I might. I’m just not in the moment, present, and paying attention! The reverse is often also true; I connect with others much more and on a deeper level when I listen.

Character Move:

  1. Horowitz suggests that we can train our skills doing things like listening to different music, carefully capturing emotions attached to the harmonics in the voice of people we work with and significant others. Like everything else worth developing: Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Please just put the darn smartphone down, look the other person in the eye, and listen. Pay attention. If you still have the smartphone or iPad in your hands, you are likely more interested in waiting for the person to stop talking than really listening.
  3. Think about being at a cocktail party, when someone glazes over your shoulder for somebody “more interesting.” That’s kinda what it feels like when we aren’t paying attention and not listening.
  4. Remember that the best things to say during conversation will naturally come out of really listening, not loading your mouth up and waiting for the other person to stop talking.

Attention in The Triangle,

Lorne