Deaf or Distracted: The Enemies Of Active Listening

Deaf or Distracted: The Enemies Of Active Listening

When was the last time you were aware you were using active listening or giving your full attention to one task or person at a time? Hard to say, right?

I was confronted with my lack-of-listening on a recent trip to Europe:

I woke up, rolled over and, in a moment, everything changed.

Have you ever scrolled mindlessly on your phone (guilty!) or surfed the web on your computer and, when someone says something to you, you “Huh?” them?

You know what I mean… When you’re deep in thought, not really paying attention to the outside world, and that person says something to you but you don’t actually hear what they say?

It happens to me all the time.

In fact, it’s gotten so bad lately that my husband told me to get my hearing checked. But I knew that wasn’t the problem.

The real problem is distraction.

Are You Deaf or Distracted?

I don’t know that we can sit with ourselves for even an hour. We live in a state of constant distraction. Fixated by technology, deep in thought. External and internal – we are unaware of how we’re being affected.

Can you sit with yourself for even an hour? We live in a state of constant distraction. Fixated by technology, deep in thought - we are unaware of how we’re being affected. #ActiveListening Click To Tweet

The main issue this results in is that we aren’t paying attention to what’s going on around us.

Until that morning in Scotland, when I woke up and heard the silence of the morning – I hadn’t been paying attention either. But as I rolled over to my left and heard the shower running, I was keenly aware that something was wrong. That’s when reality set in:

I couldn’t hear the water running at all when I was lying on my right side.

I wasn’t distracted – I’m practically deaf in my left ear.  

Since childhood, this ear has been problematic. But now, it’s more than just “not hearing well” – I’m virtually not hearing anything. It’s time to get it checked out, swallow some of my vanity and consider a hearing aid.

Deaf or Distracted: The Enemies Of Active ListeningHow’s Your Active Listening In Your Business?

This ego-punch caused me to think about you and your business. I’m always on the search for a good story. I hope that this metaphor causes you to pause and think about the quality of your listening.

When you’re deaf or distracted in your business, you don’t engage in active listening. On the more practical side, it looks like not investigating the problem and doing something about it (in spite of your internal deafness or the external distractions you’ve been sucked into).

Here are some questions to consider whether or not you’re practicing active listening in your business:

  • How often do you think you know what the problem is (in my case, distraction) when really it’s something else?
  • How often does it take many different people to try and tell you the same thing – but you refuse to hear what they are saying? (By the way, this refusal to hear isn’t because you’re deaf.) 
  • Do you hear only a small bit of what someone is trying to tell you or do you understand the entire context?
  • Are you picking up on body language and what isn’t being said when you’re talking to clients?
  • What active listening strategies do you have in place so your team can be heard and provide feedback? (P.S. the possibilities are endless.)

You may not need a hearing aid, but chances are you could benefit from a listening aid. There is tremendous value in paying attention to what’s being said around you a tiny bit more closely.

There’s always something that can be done to ensure your active listening isn’t being hindered by internal or external factors – whether you’re deaf or distracted in this moment.

Do you need an active listening 'hearing aid'? There is tremendous value in paying attention to what's being said around you a tiny bit more closely. #BusinessTip Click To Tweet

Regardless, there’s action you can take. It might mean swallowing your pride and getting a hearing aid or turning off your phone.

Tell me, what’s the most difficult factor in your ability to actively listen and pay attention to what’s around you?

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