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A different take on 'listening'

Plenty is written about the importance of listening and what active listening is. So if we know all that, why do we still find it so difficult to benefit from that powerful activity called ‘listening’.

Seth Godin writes this week in his blog about the noise that is around us, that we choose to have around us and in our life. There is so much that we scan rather than read, swipe rather than click, and we read the headlines rather than the nuance that follow. We rarely stick around for the longer version. Godin says that if you care about something, consider taking a moment to slow down and understand it. You could call it ‘paying attention’, a form of listening. Read the full post here.

Eric Barker, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller "Barking up the wrong tree", writes in his blog that our brain is designed to always be seeking out new information. That information seeking is way stronger than the “cognitive control” part of our brain that allows us to complete tasks. It has to do with our ancient brain and survival mode. In our high tech world with so much information available at a fingertip, it only makes the challenge to increase our attention span just a little harder. His blog gives a number of tips how to increase it. Read it here.

Have you noticed that sometimes our conversations are dead. Common place talk, generic words or jargon fill the space. We say what is expected rather than what we really think and feel. It is safer. No wonder the other is not listening anymore, and no wonder that we don’t listen anymore in those dead conversations. Listening can be risky, but it’s better than feeling safe and becoming a ghost. Read here what Justin Wise says about it.

In his graduation speech David Foster Wallace tells a short story:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

How can we properly listen if we are unconscious and unaware, and if we lack perspective. Awareness of the other person and of what is actually happening is critical in effective listening. For more on this insight, go to "A learning a Day'.

And do we listen to ourselves enough, and if we do, do we fool ourselves? Studies show consistently that we overrate ourselves and that we believe we are better than we really are. 90% of men believe they are better than average drivers, British prisoners rate themselves as more ethical and moral than typical citizens, we consistently give greater weight to our own view than others’, even when we’re not remotely knowledgeable in these areas. And our false confidence in our own beliefs also deters us from asking for advice when appropriate. The current environment convinces people they’re more informed than they actually are. It is at times better to acknowledge we don’t know that to think we do know. That we learn to be a little more careful and wise. That we honestly listen to ourselves. Just as we don’t blindly trust every person we meet, there’s no reason to be utterly trusting and gullible to ourselves. Read the full article here.

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