What’s goin’ on?

Earlier this month I hung out on the patio of a favorite restaurant and noticed a common phenomenon. At one table there were many people talking, few listening. For awhile people were really fired up, yet after time people gave up and sought attention elsewhere.

Although this prompted me to watch awhile while it reminded me of the days when I was teaching. Friday afternoons, 4pm, several of us gathered at the local bar for happy hour and the same thing commonly happened. All of us eager to chat while most of us not really connecting. People would move from where they were sitting, try out being around someone else and then start exploring the bar. Often I watched then, too.

What was going on?

After the experience this month I returned to my laptop and pulled out some of my communication resource materials I’ve collected over the years and found this piece from High Gain that gives great insight on the phenomenon. See in what way the insights fit what you experience.

There are many reasons why we don’t listen; some are cultural,
some psychological and some physiological. Based on years of
experience, we have identified the Top 10 Reasons why people
don’t listen.

They are:
1. American culture places a great deal of emphasis on talking
(witness the rise of blogs and YouTube).

2. Most of us think we listen well already, yet our research has
shown that people can only identify 1-2 great listeners from
their entire lives.

3. Boredom: the average person talks at rates of 125-175 words
a minute, yet we can listen at rates of up to 450 words per
minute. With this large processing gap, we drift off and think
of other things while listening.

4. We confuse listening and hearing.

5. We think good listening takes too long. Good listening
actually minimizes useless distractions and enables you
to hear the message correctly the first time.

6. We are an action-oriented culture, with a strong emphasis
on getting the job done. We frequently act before we fully

7. Less than 2% of us have had formal educational experience
with listening. Most “communication” courses are about

8. We project our thoughts and views onto others, assuming
they feel the same way.

9. We confuse listening with agreeing. Listening is about
understanding and not necessarily agreeing.

10. We make assumptions that the speaker has all the power
and that the listener is in a passive mode. Good listeners
have most of the power and control, because they help
the speaker tap into the depths of his or her wisdom and
experience in order to better verbalize it.

Some questions to ask yourself
1. What type person are you around when you experience the need to resort to your own thoughts vs. listen to theirs?

2. How could you enter the conversation, stay involved in the moment and enjoy active listening?

3. At what times do you typically do most of the talking?

4. How could you include your listeners, proving you are willing to listen to them?

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On September 17th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by