Dealing with Selective Listening

It’s frustrating when you try to talk to people who don’t hear you. No, I’m not referring to those who are hard of hearing. The ones I’m talking about are those with selective hearing and retention. There is a man that I work with who chooses to hear what he wants to hear. You can tell him that a project will not work the way he wants, and he’ll do his best to prove you wrong. That’s not always a bad trait. But if you know that something has been done repetitively and you get the same results each time, you rarely get different results.  

Another example of sporadic listening is I always tell my customers that we do not keep copies of the keys we give them. Without fail, I will get a call almost every month with the person telling me that they’ve lost their keys and need to know if I have any replacement keys. When I remind them that I don’t and will need to get someone to come in to cut the lock for them, it’s amazing how quickly they find their keys.  

Since I deal with this issue so much, I thought it might help not only myself but also several of you to include some helpful tips that I found. They are as follows: 

  1. Be Fully In The Moment. This can be a bit tricky. If your mind is wandering, you probably aren’t listening to the noises around you. People talking could be construed as noise. This might include machines in that description’s background, or even nature could be construed as loud. Whatever your environment may be, be sure to be present and in the moment.  
  2. Put Yourself In Their Shoes. This can be challenging. My friends laugh at me because I will often say, “I hate people,” and I don’t mean that statement, but I detest the way they act or come across. It’s hard to envision another person’s life, especially if you know very little about them. But it might be beneficial to try.  
  3. Pick Up Key Points And Let The Speaker Know You Did. Believe it or not, I’ve started outlining my thoughts from other people’s conversations. It’s helping me recall important ideas that others presented and helping me sharpen my skills.  
  4. Practice Active Listening. This is another tool that can be helpful. The more we practice learning to listen and not talking so much, the better we can utilize that skill.  
  5. Develop Curiosity, An Open Mind, And A Desire For Continuous Growth. Kids are a great example of this. They are not afraid to expand their minds. To them, learning is easy. Many of us can take lessons from them because a child’s mind is something to take into our adulthood. We have to be willing to be adventurous and open to new concepts and ideas. The change will come whether we like it or not. When we decide to be flexible and allow uncomfortable changes to occur, we begin to open ourselves to endless possibilities.  

Here are some other helpful tips:

  1. Pay attention. When you’re talking to someone, try to pay attention to more than just their words. Body language, tone, and expressions are priceless. Those things can tell us a lot about what other people are hearing. It’s easy to watch people if you take the time to do it. You don’t have to be condescending. Let others know they matter but acknowledging what they are saying.  
  2. Summarize. I learned this in college and used it while there, and it’s a skill I need to re-engage. When we summarize, we can convey what we thought we heard. That can be critical to let others know they are being heard and that their opinions and voices matter. 
  3. Ask questions. The best way to learn about something you don’t know or understand is to ask questions. You learn by not only asking but absorbing the information from the answers you receive.  
  4. Mind your own biases. I think all of us need to remember this. We all have opinions. Sometimes it’s better to stay quiet and not ignite a war. We all have biases. My liberal friends are so biased against conservative views that they forget there’s a reason that my conservative friends feel the way they do and vice versa. Just because someone believes something you don’t doesn’t mean you have to try to force your biases and views on someone else. Be mindful of what you say.  

The more I write these blogs, the more I learn. Listening to some of the feedback I’ve gotten helps me through topics that I am interested in learning more about. I hope you can use the knowledge you gain from listening to help make the world a better place. I also hope that you find the peace that you may be seeking. We all have those moments in time that we need to listen a little better. Maybe we can start by listening to each other and not making snap accusations along the way. Listen to your surroundings. Be open enough to embrace the complexities that life may throw your way. Most importantly, listen to your hearts. There are so many things this world is dealing with right now. We don’t have to be the problem. But we can find healing ways to help change this world for the better. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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