Are You Listening?


Are You Listening?

You’re in the middle of a paragraph and the person you’re talking to seems to disappear. Their eyes glaze over and you can see the cues. They’ve tuned out. Or instead of commenting on what you just said, they either top you with their own version, or they say something totally unrelated. You know that while you were talking they were more involved in what they wanted to say when you are done. And sometimes they don’t even wait until you’re done. They jump in before you even made you’re point as if your idea, or thought or message is inane and without merit.

What ever happened to the courtesy of listening? We are battered with millions of pieces of information every hour of the day. Tons of emails with thousands of messages. Pop-ups in the middle of websites. Sidebars of ads whenever we’re looking something up. Even the New York Times has a page in the Sunday Magazine that seems like bits of three-sentence messages on everything under the sun.

We also encounter the people who head-nod while we’re talking to make us think they’re listening. When really, they’re thinking they forgot to pick up their dry cleaning. So what can we do to be heard?

There are three things to do when you’re feeling the need to be listened to:

  1. Be brief
  2. Get to the point
  3. Say something memorable

One thing you can do when you feel someone has stopped listening: STOP TALKING to see if they notice. If they don’t. Stay quiet.

And above all, remember what it feels like when people stop listening – and be a better listener yourself.

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