You’re Not Listening to Me
Estimated Time To Read: 2 minute(s) 28 seconds
You’re not listening to me…. ever heard that from a spouse or family member? Chances are you are trying to juggle a few things at the same time and not really paying attention to the conversation.
I have recently been reading a book titled You’re not listening by Kate Murphy. It caught my eye on the bookshelf because that’s something I hear my kids and wife tell me all too often. I have asked them to pull me up on it when they catch me distracted and not listening – it hasn’t been an easy month!
The truth is we are all so busy with life. Everything is shortened to byte-size chunks for quick consumption: 0ur conversations have been reduced to emojis! Technology provides a constant distraction so we tend to be selective when we listen and we tune out. Often we do this to those we love most. The result is a creeping sense of isolation and emptiness. Good conversations take time and time in this busy world is in short supply.
As financial planners, we are trained and constantly reminded to talk less and listen more. After all, we have two ears and one mouth – use them in that proportion we are told. But it isn’t easy. Do you catch yourself finishing someone’s sentence or interrupting because you know what they are going to say and you want to add something? Ever sat through a long-winded story and looked at your watch? Have you ever been at a drinks party and been chatting to someone who clearly is not listening to you? As you say something they either interrupt you or they answer illogically. They may look over your shoulder or check something on their phone. These are bad listening traits and we all experience them all the time.
Why is listening important?
There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening requires paying full attention to what someone says, how they say it and in what context it is said. It’s not about keeping quiet and just letting them ramble on – no it’s all about what they are saying and then how you respond. Listening and responding well can transform, enrich and elevate relationships. It is how we develop wisdom and form meaningful relationships. Only by listening can we truly connect with others.
To listen well we need to develop a sense of curiosity coupled with patience. We need to learn how to ask a question in the right way. Questions should be open to elicit further thought and dialogue. Silence is also not the enemy – become comfortable in silence. Often great thoughts come in moments of silence and giving someone the uninterrupted gift of silence to formulate their thoughts is hugely powerful. Listening has the potential to transform relationships, increase our creativity and happiness.
Most of us believe we are good listeners but in truth, we can all do a lot better. None of us are good listeners all the time. It’s human nature to be distracted by what’s going on in your own head. The good news is that listening skills can be learnt. It really just takes a bit of effort.