There is no question that there is more communication than ever today and that listening requires more attention, and prioritization. Many of us receive some combination of more than 100 emails, 2-3 hours of TV, 3-5 hours of interaction with a computer, read numerous books, magazines, blogs, and other papers, 1-2 hours of phone conversations, 1-2 hours with social media, 1-2 hours of podcasts, 2-3 hours of meetings, and even a little social time with our family and friends. It’s a lot to take in. How much do we hear and actually take in?
There is no escaping the fact that biases affect our attitudes and perceptions of individuals and information. This can result from both positive and negative preconceived notions of the presentation. It can also result from other dimensions like hunger weather, the environment and our general state of mind.
One of the most significant aspects affecting listening is our perception of information. For example, I believe people don’t take enough risk. How much freedom do you allow innovative people to break rules? When do you provide support versus challenging the status quo?
Keep things interesting. In general, the audience, whether on the Internet or in person, forms its perceptions of a presentation in the first 90 seconds. As an admitted nerd, my presentations can be a little statistic heavy, which can translate as boring. Thus, I try to improve audience reception through tools like editors, comedy, stories, and pictures.
Try to create a “WIN-WIN” environment when communicating. We all know positive feedback is received more favorably and, yet, we revert to criticism, blame, and a one-upping mentality in pressure situations. We seem to follow the common TV format of adversarial commentators that frequently provide more confusion than resolution. Try to keep things positive, constructive, and remember to strive for compromise.
We frequently debate the validity, objectivity, and bias of ineffective listening. However, simply recognizing its existence and making an effort to understand how we can improve is more important. We need to consider the problems and develop solutions.
Related: How to be a Better Listener