learning to listen in an age of distraction

listeningListening has never been an easy thing. So often, rather than listening in order to listen, we listen in order to respond. It’s so easy to place only half your attention on the speaker, while you are formulating what you are going to say once they have finished.

Shifting the blame

Often we make others responsible for our listening skills – or lack of them. We expect them to hold our attention; we expect others not to distract us. But in an increasingly distracted world, is it feasible for us to shift the blame indefinitely? To expect our attention to be held and maintained by others – or we simply won’t listen?

I’m wondering: how do we make an effort to pay attention in a distracted world? Do we need to take more responsibility for our own listening skills?  How much time can we justify spending grumbling about ‘the way things are’?

Training the brain

The digital age is changing the way our brains work.  Do we simply embrace it, ignore it, grumble about it, but do nothing? Or do we try to re-train our brains within this age, learning to use the benefits but not allowing them to use us? Do we consciously adapt and re-adapt to the fast moving world around us – without being ruled by it?

It may not be ideal. It might not even be fair. But if we want to live, learn and thrive in this environment, we will need to do some adapting. There’s only so much leaning on the stable door we can do when the horse gallops merrily around us

What’s your point?

We may need to make an effort to pay attention. Attentiveness is essential to learning and remembering. We may need to learn to resist the time stealers and the attention stealers, while embracing the things that help us learn and listen (these will be different for each individual). We may need to instil new disciplines, curb our complaining and get on with it.

So often I blame my lack of discipline and my poor attention span on the world around me. Some of it may be justified, but that doesn’t help me.  I need to learn to be disciplined and attentive within this world.

That’s the challenge I face.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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