If you’re like me, I have an uncanny ability to listen to so many
things at the same time I don’t really hear any of them.
Between the music, the phone, the TV, the computer and whatever voices I have in my head (the healthy kind, I can barely focus on another person. I notice it most when I ride my bike without my music. I hear the birds, I hear kids playing, I am much more aware of where the cars are around me (I don’t endorse listening to music and riding at the same time), and my other senses seem to be more alert. Somehow, when I am listening to music my sense of smell and vision are both diminished slightly. I don’t believe I have a smell or vision problem, I believe my senses and my mind can only focus on one thing at a time. I mean really focus.
I am afraid we have lost the art of listening – assuming we had it at some point. Listening takes concentration and concentration takes minimal distraction. I see way too many couples and families not prioritize “listening”to each other. They are so busy with checking voicemail, email, the latest score on the TV that they are unable to really listen to their loved one. When we are “multi-tasking” we communicate to our spouse or to our kids that they are on equal level with whatever else we are doing.
How sad is that?
Are our kids just as important as our email?
Is our spouse on the same level as the football game? Depends on the game – oh bad joke.
No, our spouse and our kids are a lot more important than these other things.
So prioritize them.
If you are watching a game or doing something that you made plans to do, communicate to your spouse or child that you would love to listen to them.
Ask them if there is a time later that day that the two of you can connect. Don’t just ignore them or shrug them off.
In order to be a “good listener”one needs to be able to read between the lines. Words are only a part of the message. Body language and tone communicate a lot about what someone is feeling. If you are distracted by something else, it will be difficult to pick up on those subtleties. Be intentional in your listening and practice being present.