Let’s admit it, we live in a world where every moment represents an opportunity for distraction with text messages, calls, traffic, radio, gaming, etc. Mindful listening becomes even more important in a century of digital technology distractions. The average American checks their phone every 10 minutes and spends 5 hours a day using it for various purposes. Connectivity is diverting us from having meaningful conversations and is creating a discord in how we interact with each other. Have you ever meet someone for the first time, then 10 seconds later, you can’t remember their name. It literally went in one ear and out the other. Every aspect of our lives is being competed for when it comes to time and attention. That being said, it’s understandable that it is difficult to focus on the present and connect with the person in front you. According to the The Zen of Listening, we use 25% of our active listening skills on a daily basis, which means we catch a quarter of what is being shared with us. This leaves with an opportunity to improve our ability to listen by 75%. So, how do we make that happen?
The transformation of becoming a more effective and mindful listener begins with awareness of how we connect with others. Everyone has a special way of making that connection whether it’s by leaning into what the person is saying, showing interest in a topic by giving eye contact, taking notes or even in asking follow-up questions. Making that personal connection demonstrates care, value, and investment. In being a mindful. Mindful listening is an art. The Zen of Listening, by Rebecca Shafir, speaks well to what we can control and influence by being more willing to get outside ourselves and gain the perspectives of others. After all, don’t we all just want to be heard? Correction, don’t we all want to be heard and feel understood. The development of this skill requires perfect practice, mentally and physically, with each connection you make, combining all your senses with situational awareness. Below are a few mindful listening moments you can implement throughout your day to put you on the path to becoming a better mindful listener.
- Minimize the noise and distraction around you. Silence your phone, placing it out of view. If this is challenging for you, there are many apps that will lock your device or time you out of your screen.
- Acknowledge and validate the person you are connecting with
- Invite clarity by asking questions, lean in and engage in a quality conversation using drill downs to further understand the situation
- Remain open minded, self-checking your emotions and experiences
- Accept what is being said and leave your commentary behind
- Listen without judgement and physical reaction to what is said
- Listen without formulating or solving the issue in your mind
- Use your senses to seek greater understanding (tap into the non-verbal cues of body language)
- Know yourself and own your strengths. It will help you create deeper relationships
Mindful listening is one of the greatest investments to make. Giving your full and undivided attention, being present in the moment, will change how you are being heard and make a profound impact on how you make others feel. Empower yourself to be the catalyst of change. Intentionality isn’t just for us, it also empowers those around us to become better. We can inspire society to grow and be in tune with their motivations by being an example and communicating our own growth. Happiness is choice. Being intentional is a strategy to get there.