Ah yes…the famous Verizon Wireless guy…walking across the country and around the world making sure the Verizon network is working at optimum efficiency by asking the question, “Can you hear me now?”
Who doesn’t know the phrase? It has become a part of our culture (Verizon, I’m sure, is thrilled).
But a closer look at the question reveals a much bigger challenge: Are we really listening?
Are we really listening…
…to our kids?
…to our spouse?
…to our co-workers?
…to our friends?
Oh sure we are hearing a lot (blah blah blah), but are we really listening? You see many times the message is not in the words…WHAT is said(actually words sometimes get in the way). The real message is in HOW it is said.
For example, the smoke coming out of the ears, red-faced dad who shouts across the table, “I AM NOT ANGRY” is , obviously, exactly that—angry.
Now, while for most, the sense of HEARING is a gift (it comes with birth). But LISTENING requires a conscious choice we must make to fully engage in another person. As a colleague of mine says we are to be “in the moment –at the moment”.
I was putting a group of executives through a LISTENING test to see how they would do…only one passed—and he was wearing a hearing aid! He teased the others stating, “Oh man, are we in trouble…the only one who was really listening was the deaf guy!”
We all had a good laugh, but the point was well made. I had intentionally created a slight distraction, and only the executive who had honed his concentration on really listening was able to fully interpret what I was saying.
In this age of non-stop distraction (phones, emails, TV, radio, etc) it is easy to get “lazy” with our listening. Oh sure when our spouse asks, “Are you listening to me?” we can “parrot” back everything they just said, but were we really listening? Or were we focused on the ball game, or the email, or whatever.
The people in our lives deserve our best, so let’s give it to them. Can you hear me now?