Think about the last conversation you had with – oh, I don’t know – your significant other, your child, a friend on the phone, your employee. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you score your attentiveness?
I’m giving me a 2.
Just last night, our oldest daughter was talking with me… and I made a comment. She looked at me and replied, “Dad, I literally just said that two sentences ago.” I smiled and said, “I knew I heard it somewhere.” It was a weak attempt to cover my lack of listening.
There are many reasons why this happens (too often for me).
I have other things on my mind. I’m having a strong reaction and trying to manage my response. I’m racing ahead to what I want to say. I’m processing the last few sentences and miss the next ones. Sports is on the television. I’m looking at my phone. I checked out of the conversation. I’m focused on myself and not the other person.
Humans have an inherent ability to listen. Words flow in and out of our ears all day long. Hearing the other person – focusing intently on what they’re saying – is a different skill that takes discipline and practice.
I’m beginning a new habit: put down my phone the next time my daughter wants to talk, clear my head and do my best to be fully present for her.