I struggled to find a topic for today’s post today while at work. I have a few ideas floating in my head but a lot of them are only half ideas at this stage. I was so engrossed in coming up with an idea I ended up being in my own head most of the day.
As a result I ended up having to ask people to repeat themselves several times. I was getting phone numbers wrong and generally I had no idea what was going on around me. It was a weird state to be in but not one I am unfamiliar with, in fact if I had to say what I need to work on most it would be my listening skills.
Have you ever had a day like that? Where no matter what you were doing or who you were with you couldn’t get out of your own head long enough to be in the now? I’m sure a lot of us have, many people use this reason for getting into accidents, walking into things or just not knowing what was said.
So how can we live in the now and not just hear what people are saying but really listen to them? I do have a few things that I know work, and I will be sure to try to incorporate into my next work day.
Don’t think about what needs to be done when you’re finished with now, just focus on the now. If this is a problem for you as it is for most, why not try writing to do lists? Most of us worry that we will forget it so we repeat it to ourselves until we are actually doing what we don’t want to forget. If you write it down you will have a better chance at remembering, and if you have concrete proof of what needs to be done you can focus more on the now.
Hear What Someone is Saying and not What you Think They Will Say
Do you get the difference? Sure there are those times that people tell you something you knew was coming, but a lot of the time we are standing in front of them speculating what they will say. In a lot of ways we do this so we can plan what we are going to say back. So instead of hearing what they are telling us, we’re already thinking about what they will say and how we will react or respond.
This goes back to the now, live in it and don’t assume what will or will not be said you have no idea what the other person is thinking so instead of responding to something you think they will say why not allow them to first say what they want?
Get Rid of Distraction
Sometimes we can’t help but work in a crazy environment. For day care workers distraction is all around them, and rightly so, I wouldn’t expect them to just ignore the little ones running around their feet. However, there are plenty of ways that we can limit the distractions in our lives and in our immediate space in order to make sure that we give the best effort we can to listening.
Turn off your cell phone, it’s a crazy notion I know but try it! I bet the person you are talking to would really appreciate it too. If you’re at home on the phone turn off the TV while talking, or move to a room that is quiet and distraction free. There are several small distractions in our lives that can easily be wiped out, and to be honest in most cases, such as the cell phone, it’s just polite!
This helps to minimize distraction when talking to someone face to face. Don’t get crazy with it and freak the person out, but do keep steady eye contact. This tells the other people that ‘hey I want to know what you’re talking about’ and it helps to keep you in the conversation as well.
It’s easy to say that in order to be a better listener you have to listen. But for some of us it’s hard. We get distracted, we have a lot of things on our mind (paying bills, picking up the kids, what to have for dinner etc) or the conversation is just plain BORING!
But sometimes no matter how distracted we are we need to be able to listen to the other person. Whether your boss is boring or not doesn’t mean that what he is telling you to do isn’t something you need to listen to.
So, here is a simple exercise that I have used which I do find helps. It’s pretty easy (the theory not the execution) and something that is great to incorporate into a meditation or just as a daily exercise. I’m still not a pro at this and I’ve been doing it for quite some time so don’t expect instant results.
Count to 10.
Count to ten and only think about the numbers. If something else pops in start over. When you can get to 10 without any brain interruption try counting to 20, then 30, then 40 the sky is the limit on this one.
However, I would say once you reach 50 your concentration skills are pretty awesome!