Do you ever lose focus during a discussion? Do you appreciate having a conversation with somebody who is continually checking their phone for messages or seems to be in a rush? Our idea of listening has morphed into an auto-response where we tune out instead of comprehending the importance of the content. The driving force behind this shift is the innovation of technology that compels us to process information quicker. It is much easier to create forgone conclusions than to actually pay attention and hear the details. This swift processing of information allows us to look productive, when all we are doing is distracting ourselves from the lack of direction in our lives.
S l o o o w d o w w w n n n!
A recent Microsoft study found that our attention span is down from 12 seconds (around the birth of cellular technologies in 2000) to 8 seconds. That is a whopping 1 second less than a bored gold fish…WOW! No wonder it is hard for most people to listen to a whole conversation!
Daily effort is required to master the art of listening. I always ask the following question at the beginning of the basketball camps I lead to set the tone for maximum effort. “Why were you born with two ears and one mouth?” Some kids chime in with the answer they have undoubtedly heard from their parents: “to listen twice as much as you speak.” I then explain that mastering the soft skill of listening will help them improve at the camp. If they listen, they will hear the instructions, understand the drills, and perhaps most importantly, comprehend that any feedback they receive is to help them improve and not a personal attack on them. I teach them that they can achieve that same “game winning shot” feeling through effective listening.
My dog Asia is an example of an excellent listener. She not only listens to what I command, but also shows empathy by listening to my tone and reading my body language to understand my mood. She can then positively respond to me because she formed a true connection with me. Let’s use Asia’s GOOD PET skills to outline some ways to become a better listener.
Gratitude – Be grateful for the conversation, even if it’s not what you think you want to hear.
Open – Be open to the conversation.
Objective – Don’t make everything about yourself. Listen to the conversation impartially.
Deliberate – Be on purpose. Listen to comprehend the conversation.
Present – Be where your feet are. Stop letting distractions run your life.
Eyes – Look the person in the eyes during the conversation.
Tact – Be thoughtful. Learn to have the difficult conversations.
Congratulations! If you read this whole article, you are smarter than a gold fish.
Charlie Miller is an entrepreneur, public speaker, and master basketball trainer. He has owned his business, ATTACK Basketball Academy for 6 years and is passionate about mentoring the youth of today. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.