One of the many things that human's possess that never shuts off is our ears. Even when we are sleeping, we are listening. In such a noisy world full of distractions, loud noises, and multi-tasking, how are we actually able to listen to anything worthwhile?
Is listening to those around us even possible anymore?
Something is wrong here, right?
Humans use listening to gain meaning through sound, but in a world so noisy this requires more energy then ever.
Take for instance being on a subway and looking around at how many people are wearing headphones, listening to their music. These people may seem like the are attempting to fully devote their ears to their music and are fully focused in on it. What this creates though is a bunch of individuals isolating themselves and not actually listening to those around them. It is sometimes no wonder why people find it hard to communicate, relate, and connect with people. We are frequently in our own worlds!
What needs to happen to regain this integral piece of communication and connection. The piece that helps us understand each other, gain meaning from one another, and exist together.
Well... here are 3 steps to start regaining our ability to listen:
Reboot Our Ears:
Take 3 minutes (only 90 seconds) of silence a day (or quietness). This actually helps your ears recalibrate themselves. Returning them to a place of higher performance.
Some people find particular noises "annoying" or "distracting", such as an air-conditioner, a truck/train going by, or a baby crying. Try to take some of the sounds you hear on a day to day basis and relate them to something positive. Imagine your world when those sounds don't piss you off or get you in a negative mood.
Follow the Rules:
So we have lost our ability to fully listen to those around us which has resulted in retaining only 25% of what we listen to! We are better then that, and here is an acronym that will help you retain more information.
- R eceive: Pay attention to the person. (eye contact, look at their lips, stay focused)
- A ppreciate: Use small sounds/word to appreciate what the person is saying (hmm, okay, yes...etc)
- S ummarize: Old trick in the book. If you reflect back some of the information you were just told it will not only help you remember it but will make the other person feel appreciated and respected. (try starting the summary by saying "So")
- A sk: Use relevant questions as a way of expressing interest, staying engaged, and as another staple to retain more information.
Remember that listening is how we understand each other and the things around us. It is always one of the top issues in relationships and families. It is worth paying close attention to.
*Some of the information provided above was derived from Julian Teasure's TED Talk "5 Ways to Listen Better".