Is Listening Becoming A Lost Art?

imageOver the last two months, I have had an amazing time listening to podcasts. I just can’t get enough of Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins and Pat Flynn. I will even listen to TED Talks while driving, then watch them when I get back home or in a reception area waiting for my car to be fixed.

I look forward to listening to these podcasts!

This coming from a man who can’t listen to a record-breaking music album from ‘cover-to-cover’ is quite a remarkable achievement. I would be bored stiff by the time I got to the third song. Purchasing music was a pain, I just just but nearly stopped buying any.

The spark back to an audio tingle in my ears came back to me a few years back. And it came from the most unusual space. My family and I were on a long twelve-hour trip that would see us cross one international boundary.

To keep our kids entertained, we had carried some of their favorite songs on CD and MP3. Unknown to me, their was one audio book thrown in for good measure. Halfway into our journey, my wife popped in the first CD. ‘The Hatchet’ by Gary Paulsen was the story…

Thirty minutes later, I was completely lost in the the story. I didn’t notice it until I looked at the odometer an hour into the story. We were crawling at thirty miles (fifty kilometers) per hour on a highway! The ache in my shoulders from my hunched driving position was the cue that all was not well.

When did I lose my patience of listening to great stuff? It must have been in school where everything was barked at me at ‘rat-a-tat’ pace akin to machine gun fire. I listened to survive, not to thrive.

I don’t know if this is something you struggle with this. But I did for a long time. So what changed?

It all began with silence…

I switched off the news and FM channels. Over time, I had been fighting with conflicting thoughts on the value of these two media. I assessed what the net gain was. Apart from heightened levels of tension and stress, I discovered I wasn’t learning much. My spirit was not nourished in any way. Did I acquire any credible knowledge? No!

It was tough shutting out that noise. I wanted to reach out for the remote control to turn on the radio or TV. The ‘withdrawal’ symptoms were horrible. Four weeks into my silence, I started to hear what other people were saying. Connections with people now had more significance.

Active hearing becomes listening

The more I actively heard people talking to me, a switch clicked on in my mind. It became an activity I was slowly enjoying. The rhythm and tempo of different voices now had a soul and character. People come alive right infront of me. Now I was listening.

Listening is making the engagement all about the other person. I now could ‘switch’ of my interests and completely engage with the person I was in conversation with. I wasn’t listening to figure out how to step in with my solution. I was listening to engage with a soul.

I was now learning how important it was to wait for an invitation to pour into their lives… In my next post, we will engage on why listening is one of, if not, he most important trait of any leader.

Have you ever had to ‘relearn’ something that would naturally come to you? Share your story in the comments below
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photo credit: amphalon via photopin cc

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

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  • Lady in the Loge

    Once again you hit the nail on the head. I too have backed off of all auditory messages about news, etc. We no longer have TV in our home. It is marvelous to realize that now various things I never heard before are echoing in my ears; birds, a mid-week sermon, and so on. It’s a great blessing!!

    • Amazing what difference it makes when you switch off the noise, even a little.

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