How We Have Become Lousy Listeners, and Why This is a Problem

We have literally hundreds of differing things/people/noises/apps/projects/work/ideas competing for our attention every hour of every day.

This makes slowing down, taking a deep breath, and pausing to actually focus, hone in on, and sink entirely into a social interaction with another person, no easy task.

Further, while the vast majority of us would likely claim being good listeners, feeling confident and sure of this, the reality is that most of the people who think this are not good listeners.

This is much like the statistic that the majority of people think they are above average and even excellent drivers, which is of course, impossible.

Why is this a problem? For many reasons.

-In relationships, for those who are good listeners, this grows exhausting, frustrating, and disheartening. The ones who do put in the interest, focus, and efforts to truly hear (and not just for 20 seconds, but for sustained periods of time), understand, and connect with their companions. The people who work hard (as listening is no easy task, it takes energy and focus) to give their friends, romantic partner, and others that gift of their listening.

An authentic, genuine friendship is one in which both people feel heard, both feeling their companion has an equal level of interest in them as they do the other.

Bad listening leads to low quality and often unsatisfying connections between people.

A quick and dirty cheat sheet on the basics of good listening:

-Make eye contact. Roving eyes do not indicate listening or focus.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author.

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