It is intriguing in this age of modern technology where so many of us are joined at the hip with our mobile phones, laptop computers and numerous other communication devices, that one would consider asking the question, who’s really listening? Sit on a street bench and watch the world go by and you will observe people juggling a number of conversations all at the same time; face to face, on mobiles or laptop computers. Sometimes when family or friends phone me I am at the computer and I have recently become aware that often I am sending emails or surfing the net while talking.
So in these situations, who is giving and who is receiving total attention, who is listening fully; and if we are not giving our full attention or listening, what is the impact of that on the people involved? Apart from the obvious fact that it is just plain rude, what message does it send to the person who is trying to speak to us? Does it say that we don’t care about them enough or we haven’t got time for them?
Long experience has shown me that people want to feel heard and they also want to feel accepted, so is listening fully then not an important part of nurturing relationships and promoting well-being?
Since I have become aware that I am as guilty as anyone else of not giving my full attention, I have been making a concerted effort to move away from the computer and any other distractions when talking on the phone. I would love to be able to say that my change in approach is working 100% but I still have some way to go!
Technology has brought us wonderful opportunities including providing us with multiple frameworks for communication, so I am not arguing the benefits. I am simply asking, have we lost the art of focusing on and listening to the person speaking to us one on one; and if so, what is the cost of that? What do you think? How well do you really listen?