Here are a few things people do when they should be listening:
- Anything with a smartphone (Unless actually using it to talk so someone. Do people still do that?)
- Thinking about what they’re going to say next
- Deciding the other person is wrong
- Finishing the other person’s sentence
- Looking at a computer screen
- Focusing on the rogue hair somewhere on the other person
- Judging their outfit
- Getting panicked about what hasn’t gotten done today
- Wondering what’s for dinner
- Trying to figure out how to extricate oneself from talking to this person
- Driving while talking on a cell phone – in which case that’s doing three things badly
Genuinely listening is getting more and more difficult to do as more and more things demand your attention. But doing so is a great gift and true show of respect.
Every interaction is a chance to get better at it. Changing behaviors is challenging, so try this. For one week make certain you are truly listening just one time a day. The next week make it two times per day. The third week, three times per day. And so on. You’ll find yourself being a better listener over time.