I always preach that communication is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. If you are not communicating, fully and effectively how can you expect someone to understand you. However communication has two parts two it, vocalization and listening. I feel like a lot of times in this world we tune out a lot of what people say. Why do we do that? Are we too distracted? Do we just want to hear what it is we want to hear? I would agree with both of those statements. But people want to be heard, they want to feel like they matter, they want to feel that their feelings, their thoughts, their expressions are not only vocalized but heard.
I have always been a very visual learner and to listen to someone speak to me can sometimes be a very daunting task. In many cases, it’s not because I think the person is boring, or the person is uninteresting or that the information that the person is presenting is dull..it is just…my mind tunes it out. I am one of those people who would much rather jump in and have hands on experience than listen to someone talk about something for an hour. So why is that? I think part of the problem is that I need to work on developing my listening skills…I need to live to listen.
I think Julian Treasure is right when he says, “Listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening always creates understanding.” To further this notion, Gordon Hempton said, “When we’re truly listening, we have to anticipate that we might become changed by what we heard.” First off, an aside on Gordon Hempton. Hempton is The Sound Tracker. He is an acoustic ecologist who has spent over 30 years of his life traveling around the world recording the sounds of nature without any “manmade” noises interfering. The job seems pretty cool, and you can learn more by going to soundtracker.com
Mind over Matter:
Our mind can work much faster than we as humans can speak. Humans can speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, whereas our minds can probably in take about 400 words per minute. Because our minds work so much faster than we as humans can present, our mind wonders. So when it comes down to it, we only use about 25% of our mental capacity to listen to an average speaker. With that in mind…there is another 75% of our mental capacity sitting there bored, urging us to find a distraction, make a distraction or do anything other than listen to the person speaking.
Dr. Ralph G. Nichols, a longtime professor of rhetoric says that to define a “good listener” it is someone who truly gives 100% attention to the speaker. Now how many of us would then consider ourselves to be good listeners? Whether that’s because we are checking our phone or doing some sort of other multitasking such as thinking about what we are going to each for lunch, or how can we ever get through our enormous to do list.
Dr. Nichols said, “The most basic of all humans needs is to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to truly listen to them.” Nichols has created a “Top 10” list of worst listening habits that we employ:
1. Call the subject matter uninteresting
You go to a meeting, the chairman announces the topic or you see it on a program, and say to yourself, “Gee, how dull can it get anyhow? You’d think they could get a decent speaker on a decent subject.” So you’ve convinced yourself the topic is uninteresting and you turn to the many other thoughts and concerns you’ve stored up in your mind for just such an occasion — you start using that unoccupied 75 percent of your mental capacity. A good listener, on the other hand, might start at the same point but arrives at a different conclusion. The good listener says, “Gee, that sounds like a dull subject and I don’t see how it could help me in my work. But I’m here, so I guess I’ll pay attention and see what the speaker has to say. Maybe there will be something I can use.”
2. Criticize the delivery or appearance of the speaker
Many of us do this on a regular basis. We tend to mentally criticize the speaker for not speaking distinctly, for talking too softly, for reading, for not looking the audience in the eye. We often do the same thing with the speaker’s appearance. If speakers aren’t dressed as we think they should be, we probably tend not to listen closely or we may immediately classify the speaker as a liberal or conservative, a hippie or a square. But if we concentrate on what the speaker is saying, we may begin to get the message and we may even get interested. Remember, the message is more important than the form in which it is delivered.
3. Become too stimulated
We may hear a speaker say something with which we disagree. Then we can get so concerned that our train of thought causes us to spend more time developing counter arguments so that we no longer listen to the speaker’s additional comments. We are busy formulating questions in our mind to ask the speaker, or we may be thinking of arguments that can be used to rebut the speaker. In cases like this, our listening efficiency drops to nearly zero because of over-stimulation. So, hear the speaker out before you judge him or her.
4. Listen only for facts
Too many of us listen for facts and, while we may recall some isolated facts, we miss the primary thrust or idea the speaker is trying to make. Be sure that your concern for facts doesn’t prevent you from hearing the speaker’s primary points.
5. Try to outline everything that is being said
Many speakers are so unorganized that their comments really can’t be outlined in any logical manner. It’s better to listen, in such a case, for the main point. A good listener has many systems of taking notes and selects the best one to fit a speaker.
6. Fake attention
This is probably one of the more common bad listening habits. If you’re speaking to a group and suddenly you become aware that most of your audience is sitting with chin in hand staring at you, that is a good signal that attention is being faked. Their eyes are on you but their minds are miles away. We probably have developed our own faking skills to a high point. Let’s recognize what we’re doing and eliminate faking as a poor listening habit.
7. Tolerate or create distractions
People who whisper in an audience of listeners fall into this category. Some
distractions can be corrected (closing a door, turning a radio off) to improve the listening atmosphere.
8. Evade the difficult
We tend to listen to things that are easy to comprehend and avoid things that are more difficult. The principle of least effort will operate in listening if we allow it to do so.
9. Submit to emotional words
We’re all aware of the emotional impact of some words. Democrat and Republican are emotional words for some people. So are northern and southern for others. There are hundreds of examples. Don’t let emotional words get in the way of hearing what a speaker is really saying.
10. Waste thought power
Nichols’ 10th bad listening habit is the one he feels is most important. It is wasting the differential between thought speed and the speed at which most people speak. Nichols describes 3 important ways to overcome this differential by:
Train the Speaker:
I do understand that actively listening is a two way process. I wish that people who give presentations are more cognizant of what they are like when they are speaking though. It shouldn’t just fall on the listener to listen, but also on the speaker to be engaging, upbeat and dynamic. Studies always show that on average, listening to a 10 minute oral-speaker, listeners retain about 50% of the information given. 48 hours later, that drops down to about 25% of what the speaker said. To me, those speakers that are the most engaging, most entertaining, most dynamic are the ones that truly stick out in my mind and cause e to retain more of the information.
I know that I have a hard time listening, especially to large chunks of information, so I know that I definitely need to focus more on really tuning out all the distractions to effectively, actively and completely listen when someone is speaking but it is also my sincerest hope that people work harder to be more engaged and dynamic speakers.
“We are human beings and this is part of our human nature. We do not learn the importance of anything until it is snatched from our hands." - Malala Yousafzai
This is Malala. She is currently 22 years old, but this video was filmed when she was 16.
On October 9, 2012 Malala was 15 years old. Malala was sitting on a bus and shot in the face by Taliban forces in the Swat region of Pakistan. The Taliban shot Malala because Malala believed in the importance of education for women. Because Malala spoke up, the Taliban marked her for death.
In 2013 she co-authored a book entitled, I am Malala and in 2014 Malala became the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in advocating for education for women. Despite all odds and overcoming such trials and tribulations, this young woman still maintains a truly positive and refreshing attitude.
"If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty. You must fight others, but through peace, dialogue and education." - Malala Yousafzai
While speaking to the United Nations, Malala said, "The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born ... I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I'm here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists."
After all of this, Malala has continued her advocacy and activism and in 2018 wrote a new book, We are Displaced: True Stories of Refugee Lives. In this book, Malala talks about refugees and says, "What tends to get lost in the current refugee crisis is the humanity behind the statistics..." and "people become refugees when they have no other option. This is never your first choice." With everything that has gone on over the past 4 years in the fight for refugees and refugee rights, it is important to always remember the humanity behind the politics.
Malala has created a fund, the Malala Fund, that fights to educate women and children all across the world, to make sure that education is a top priority in stoping violence and terrorism for future generations.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story...The consequence of a single story is this, it robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different instead of how we are similar." – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The single story exists everywhere. Everyone stereotypes but the problem exists when people use those stereotypes to judge or classify a person, culture, society, etc. Why do you think people stereotype and what do you think are the dangers with stereotypes? Could stereotyping ever be for a positive reason or have a positive outcome?
I think people stereotype for several reasons: FEAR, LAZINESS, UNEDUCATED, OR DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.
Oftentimes, people develop those stereotypes based upon family values and beliefs. It only makes sense right, that as children we spend a good majority of time with our parents and develop a similar viewpoint or value system that they have. So if a family has an issue with a certain trait, value or culture, they generate a viewpoint of people who express that characteristic, culture, etc. As we continue to cognitively develop, we add to our values and beliefs based upon the things that we learn from our friends, peers, the news media and society.
What is important is that people need to challenge their beliefs to ensure that they are not forming a single story. College is one of the great times when people can challenge these beliefs. As they come to college, students begin to test their values (values that they have developed and their parents have fostered for 18 years). It is here where college students can interact with different cultures, different viewpoints, different ideas. After mixing their values with this new information, hopefully what emerges is a new or revised viewpoint. College allows for that cognitive dissonance.
But what happens if someone does not go to college or someone does not have that chance to experience that dissonance on a belief? How do we effectively interact with them to help promote dissonance? I believe that representation is extremely important. I believe that being able to show people that difference is not bad and that just because someone is different does not make them a bad person or an inferior member of society.
We, as humans, are Cognitive masters in that our brains our wired to think and think and think. So because we think a lot, we like to compartmentalize things or categorize things because it makes learning and recalling information easier. The problem with this is that once we categorize or stereotype we very often forget to go back and make sure that our categories live up to their stereotype. It is important that we are constantly analyzing and reevaluating our thoughts, impressions and stereotypes to make sure that we haven't created a single story.
What are you doing to avoid creating a single story?
When looking at the entire expanse of a lifetime, sometimes it seems like you have so much time to do the things that you really want to do and enough time to get things done the way you want them done. But when you include all of the other things that you HAVE to do in life (eating, grooming, going to work, traveling, etc) how much time do you really have to make the most of your life?
I thought that this video was very interesting and I think that it really puts some things into perspective. How do you spend your free time and ultimately what would you rather be doing? I guess we all tend to think that sometimes “Life is too short,” but I think that this video really shows how short life really is. I am a visual learner and for me, this video resonates with me. It really puts things into perspective. When you think about all the time we spend worrying, complaining, fighting with others, focusing on the small and menial aspects of life we forget about the larger, more important events in our lives.
If at the end of the day we only have about 1/10th of our lives that are set up for those moments for laughing, swimming, making art, going on hikes, text messaging, reading, checking Facebook, learning the guitar, etc it truly does put life into perspective. For me it shows that 1) Everyone needs to cherish their youth, 2) You really need to choose a job you love (especially if you are going to be spending more time at work then focusing on free time), 3) If our free time really does only consist of 2,740 days, then YOU NEED TO REALLY MAKE THE MOST OF IT!!! Carpe Diem.
On Average, you will:
Live: 28,835 days
Threshold of Adulthood: 5,470 days
Sleep: 8,477 days
Eat, Drink and Preparing Food: 1,635 days
Work: 3,202 days
Commute/Travel in our Daily Lives: 1,099 days
Watch Television: 2,676 days
Household Activities (Chores, taking care of pets, shopping): 1,576 days
Care for the need or wellbeing of others (friends and family): 564 days
Grooming/Bathroom activities: 671 days
Community Activities (religious activities, charity, taking classes, civi duties, meetings, etc): 720 days
Free time: 2,740 days….
Today is the first day of a new year. I have already used up 13,140 days and only have about 15,695 days left. So I am making a resolution to start focusing more on life, on those moments that make life truly worth living. You could literally spend your entire life planning, dreaming and thinking about what you want for your life instead of enacting it. So I am going to work more intentionally this year to start completing the legacy that I want to leave behind.
So my question to all of you, What do you do in your free time? I know for me, I don’t need to be doing anything too lavish or eloquent. I think spending time with family and friends is extremely important so to me that is what I want to do with my free time…spending it with the people that make me feel unique and loved. How did this video make you feel?