By Rebecca Carswell
We’ve got a guest article today! This one is by Vero Strength member Rebecca Carswell and it centers on a skill that’s necessary for success – listening! Rebecca is an expert on the subject and has even published a book about listening!
Listening to your partner is important. It’s critical in your career and it will make your experience in the gym so much better. So, listen up: check out the article below! Heeeeere’s Rebecca…
Have you ever flipped through old magazine publications from the 1950’s and 60’s? Have you noticed how long the written advertisements are in them? They’re like short stories. Fast forward a few decades later to the 21st century and fifteen-second commercials seem too long for our present-day attention spans. Staring at screens commands most of our attention, pharmaceuticals to help us focus and concentrate are commonplace, and the human mind, with its non-stop chatter in the form of thoughts, seems busier and noisier than ever. Top all this off with the advent of algorithms hijacking our attention and I think you’ll agree that one of the many aspects of humanity that has suffered is our ability to be present and listen.
Listening is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so much so that I wrote a book about it. This skill is important because it is, among other things, the foundation of our ability to connect with others and our ability to understand different beliefs and viewpoints.
Part of the problem is that many of us think we already are good listeners, so we don’t bother to work on this skill. Ambrose Bierce, a journalist and satirist who lived in the late 1800’s, defined ‘conversation’ this way: “A vocal competition in which the one who is pausing to catch his breath is called the listener.” Many of us are simply waiting to talk, not truly listening.
There are many barriers that prevent us from listening well; I write about eight of them in my book. “Rehearsing” is a common barrier, and that is when you think about, or prepare in your mind, what you’re going to say before the other person has finished talking. You mentally rehearse important points you want to make and begin formulating your response in your head. You may “rehearse” when you’re trying to impress someone with an intelligent response, or are eager to make your point and don’t want to forget what you want to say.
Tuning into the “rehearsing” that is happening in your mind while someone is speaking to you requires awareness. This awareness is the first step to changing the pattern or habit. When you catch yourself thinking about what you want to say, bring your attention back to the speaker. You may have to refocus often in the beginning, but it will become easier the more you practice. When your turn to speak comes, you will know what to say. Your response is always better when you really listen than when you are rehearsing in your mind. This may sound strange, but when I’ve had trouble controlling my “rehearsing,” I’ve written a word or two down on a piece of paper and have then been able to give my full attention to the speaker. What I want to say is there on paper so I can let it go from my mind and truly listen.
Like any worthwhile skill, learning how to become a better listener takes patience and practice. And awareness. But I guarantee it will change your life, and the lives of your loved ones, for the better. Philosopher Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.”
For a quick and eye-opening read, you can find my book, Hey, Are You Listening To Me? Listening Your Way to Professional and Personal Success, on Amazon. You will recognize barriers in yourself that prevent you from being present with people in your life. It makes a great gift too. And I’ve been told that my book is the perfect joke gift for the really poor listeners out there! (We all know some.) I love knowing that, and I also love knowing that the poor listeners in your life just might learn something from it.