Imagine trying to listen to someone when you are distracted by compelling thoughts. Did you press reply or reply to all? Did you remember to turn off your headlights? Am I going to the right address or should I stop and check?
It won’t matter what the person is saying, your quality of listening will be poor. You will miss the message or important nuances in the tone.
The solution is to be mindful when listening. Keep your mind on the job in hand.
Easily said. A way of improving your ability to focus is to manage the distracting thoughts. Who knows where they come from so attacking the source is not the answer. They come and they go. The secret is how you deal with them. Imagine your mind is a professional office where people enter the waiting room first and then get invited to another room for the professional consultation. If someone enters without an appointment or just drops in uninvited, you could ask the receptionist to tell them to wait. They will probably get bored and leave.
Same for thoughts. They enter and take a seat. No appointment. Are they helpful. Squeeze them in for an appointment. Unhelpful? Leave them waiting until they get bored and leave. Don’t ask them to leave. They will leave of their own accord.
So if you are distracted by unhelpful thoughts when listening to someone, notice the thought has dropped in and go back to listening. Some people might admit to being distracted.”I’m sorry I was distracted for a moment. Can you repeat what you said”.
Try this next time you are asked to listen. You will be distracted many times but get better at returning to the conversation with only short distractions instead of long ones.
If you need help, contact me.