Are you too busy to listen?
Recently I spoke at a university in the Greater Toronto Area. I asked the room “How many of you feel seen, heard, and understood?” No hands went up. Then I asked, “How many of you want to feel seen, heard, and understood?” Everyone’s hands shot up.
Then someone dropped a truth bomb.
She said, “Honestly, I don’t have the time or interest to listen to others right now.” I could see all the other women nodding their head in agreement. I wondered, how many other women are feeling this way?
Truth Bomb #2: You are being bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day.
Expectations at work and at home are at an all-time high. Emails and to-do lists are never-ending. You are being bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day. It is exhausting, overwhelming and women are checking out.
With the overwhelm, women, are shying away from real life, real-time conversations. It is faster, easier, more controllable to text, email or engages in social media.
Here is the problem. Our personal and professional health and happiness depend on the quality of our relationships. We can’t build effective relationships or understand the needs of others (like our families or clients) if we aren’t present and actively listen in real life and in real time.
Truth Bomb #3: You can’t do anything effectively if you are not present.
In the overwhelm of daily life, it is challenging to be present. Our attention competes with what hasn’t been done, what needs to get done and arguments we can’t let go of. We check out.
“A lot is at stake in attention. Where we put it is not only how we decide what we will learn; it is how we show what we value.” – Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation
Being present allows you to focus on the here and now. This is how we connect with others. It is how we learn and understand, how we engage and inspire. Think about it. If you are never truly here or there, what kind of life are you living anyway?
To be present requires that we turn off the chatter in our heads. We free ourselves from what may have happened in the past or anticipating what will happen in the future. It requires us to be only aware of what is going on in the moment.
Being present helps us find a place of calm where we feel grounded. We feel at peace with ourselves. It is also the only way we can access curiosity and intentionally listen to someone who is speaking to us.
3 Ways to Become More Present to Listen with Intent
- Quiet The Gremlins – We all have a little voice inside our head and it competes with our ability to be present. Quiet that voice to help limit distractions.
- Focus On The Speaker – Give the speaker your full attention. This messages respect. It also keeps you present. This means no multi-tasking a.k.a put away your phone!
- Be Open – When we hear things we don’t like or don’t agree with, often we stop listening. We stop being present. This shuts conversations down making it impossible for connection. It also leads to conflict. Quieting the judging gremlins in your head to focus on the speaker will help keep you open minded and present in the moment to listen. Staying present and actively listening will ensure that you learn and build a connection.
 “Welcome to the information age – 174 newspapers A day” via Telegraph, Nov 20, 2017.
Co-Founder of The Institute of Curiosity, Co-Author of The Power of Curiosity, Communication Ambassador for Wealthy Woman Warrior™
We specialize in high-quality conversations that build high-quality relationships. That means we help people STOP reacting (to people, emotions, events) and learn to start RESPONDING to engage and inspire others, especially in emotional or high stakes situations.