What Impedes Our Listening?

Has anyone ever accused you of not listening? Did you think you were falsely called out?

When we think we listen, we often don’t really listen. We all do. We think of ourselves as open-minded, objective, and listening well. Yet, are we usually doing that?

A few years ago, I attended the Landmark Forum. It is a three-day transformative event to produce breakthroughs in people’s lives. Participants gain an “awareness of the basic structures in which they know, think, and act.”

In the “Already Always Listening™segment, we discovered that our ability to listen is quite impeded.

We listen through significant filters:

  • Thinking about our reply in response to while the person is talking
  • Already anticipating what the other person is about to say
  • Viewing what the person told through the filters of
    • Our own life experiences
    • Our pre-existing ideas and notion
    • Our past experiences with that person

Landmark created the phrase “Already Always Listening” for this phenomenon. It leads to some interesting questions:

  • How distorted is what we hear?
  • How many possibilities do we miss out on because we filter them out?
  • How much communication takes place?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist

I hate to admit: When my husband tells me I didn’t listen to him, he is probably right. Conversely, when I feel he didn’t listen, it is likely true, too. The same goes for “communications everywhere, at home, at work, with friends, … it is pervasive.

What is the Solution?

Awareness is key. Do your best to become aware of your filters and LISTEN. Set aside your thoughts and judgments. It takes conscious efforts to do that.

The rewards of taking that on are deeper relationships, more personal growth, and being able to see more possibilities for a more fulfilling life.

Why am I Writing This Brilliance Nugget?

There are two reasons:

  1. To share this insight with you (or remind you of it).
  2. Remind myself. Being aware of the “Already Always Listening” phenomenon once is not enough. It is even more intensive than brushing our teeth. Twice a day is a good start but not enough. We benefit from doing it all the time.

I’m Curious

I invite you to watch yourself today as you listen to others. What are you seeing?

  • How often do you feel a family member, coworker, or friend is not really listening to you?
  • How often do you catch yourself thinking about what to reply while another person is talking to you?
  • How often do you catch yourself already anticipating what the other person will say?

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