Selective Listening.

904288816“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”, Simon & Garfunkel, The Boxer

Beautifully written and sung. The words from Simon & Garfunkel’s, The Boxer, are the inspiration of today’s Struming.

I am guilty. I am a selective listener (at best) and I am rarely if ever as attentive and empathic a listener as I should be.

As a type A person I think I have the solution to every situation, and I approach problem solving like “Name that Tune”. I can solve that problem with “one note”. Even if that were to be the case, often the person laying out the problem or situation doesn’t want the solution at all, but merely wants to express their thoughts out loud.

Responding “Hey dummy, do this” (or perhaps a marginally more respectful version) isn’t what they were looking for at all. And worse your quick answer without a deep understanding is likely woefully off the mark.

Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effect People talks about the 5 levels of listening.

1. Ignoring

2. Pretend listening

3. Selective Listening

4. Attentive Listening

5. Empathic Listening

I worked in the ad agency business for many years earlier in my career and ad agencies are notorious for selective listening, seeking the phrase or thought where the client likes an idea and not hearing their underlying issue. The agency comes back thinking the idea is sold, and the client is discouraged that they agency didn’t listen. Happens all the time.

In fact, how often are you not really listening to comments thoughts, and merely waiting for the pause where you can blurt out YOUR thought (the important thought say you)? Alas, too often I suspect. Attentive and empathic listening requires a true commitment of thinking about the ideas from the other’s perspective.

Again according to Covey:

“To truly listen means to transcend your autobiography, to get out of your own frame of reference, out of your own value system, out of your own history and judging tendencies, and to get deeply into the frame of reference or viewpoint of another person.  This is called empathic listening.  It is a very, very rare skill.  But it is more than a skill.  Much more.”

I hope today’s Struming helps you pause and think about how you listen. It helps me recognize my own flaws (few though they may be).

Never can go wrong listening more deeply and walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

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