Listening in a noisy world

Most of the noise is in your head.

Our fascinating, beautiful, mysterious brains have minds of their own. Wandering off when we’re wanting to focus, bringing up memories unpleasant, telling us how we’re going to fix that no good so-and-so. What we don’t need to live our lives with purpose is loading onto the mysterious workings of the brain is this silliness of “multi-tasking.” Once a gold-standard, now it is known to only be shiny.

I once had a supervisor who, most times, would keep doing something else even when I was in the room at an appointment of their setting of time and place. I would get “Go ahead. I’m listening” with their eyes fully on the computer screen, fingers flying. Seriously. This type of behavior makes anyone feel devalued. I hope you’re not doing that.

Stand at the light switch, turning it off and on as fast as you can. That’s what our brains are doing when we multi-task; switching between two tasks at a high rate of speed. The brain works in such a way that when doing that our effectiveness at both tasks degrades. Not optimum. Is the room still lit when you’re switching that switch fast, fast, fast? Sure. The smartest method of keeping the room lit? Uh, no.

Then there is not paying attention.

I am happily involved in a half-day face-to-face workshop locally at the end of April. My co-presenters and I are busily promoting it. One of my co-presenters was at a gathering of friends who are interested in her personally and in whatever endeavor she chooses to pursue. The workshop had been discussed before. They had seen the postcard we’re using to promote face-to-face. This information is expanded fully on the website. My co-presenter was astounded when she started getting questions about and suggestions for this workshop that are fully described and answered. These women who are interested are not listening. This is not atypical.

We’ve all got noise going on inside our head. We can train ourselves to be present in our own lives with whomever we are interacting with. First we have to know we can train ourselves. Now you know and you’ve no excuses.

Yes, listening is the number one skill in communicating effectively. Practice it this week. Take your hand off the light switch.