If you are looking for one area of focus that will make an immediate positive impact on your life; learn how to listen. Listening is the most important aspect in effective communication, and as we all know, communication is what makes life function. Yes, listening is more important than action because without knowing exactly what we are acting upon we are wasting time.
Studies show that we retain about 25 to 50% of what we hear, meaning that 50 to 75% of what is said to us goes to waste. Put this into productivity measures and we are acting upon 50% of what we are capable of at best. Now imagine if we were able to be at least 50% more productive during our day how much simpler our lives would be. The numbers always provide a clearer reality, and our reality dictates that we are half as talented as we can be simply because we don’t invest in a learned skill.
Listening is more than hearing the words that are being sent to you, it involves deciphering the message that is being sent as well. Within the message is the meaning of what is being told. It is the story consisting of many useless words and innuendo of which we must learn to make sense of so we can create proper action. In many ways an effective listener must also be able to crack code. In order to crack code we must be willing to speak less and take in more.
Our ability to listen correctly is primarily disrupted because we are thinking of what to say next instead of taking in information. Our ego has the desire to debate when our brain is trying to comprehend. This battle between the ears causes a distraction so large that we miss whole segments of information so that we can get our response out before we lose the idea.
This is not just an external exercise because we don’t listen to ourselves either. Our internal dialogue is disrupted the same way. Our bodies send us messages all the time and we spend countless amounts of effort negating what we are saying to ourselves. Again, our ego is the main culprit in our neglect. That twinge we feel when push ourselves physically is our bodies way of communicating to us, so to ignore it or put it into the 25 percentile is actually detrimental to our ability to succeed. The voice within saying that this might not be the best idea is our bodies way of saying caution is needed, yet we ignore it only to feel regret later for doing something we knew we shouldn’t have.
Our positive impact in this world is directly related to action, but it is action through attentiveness. The time we spend out of exercise from injury because we did not listen to our bodies is no different than the time we spend redoing something because we did not pay enough attention the first time. In either instance we are the cause of our own ineffectiveness. You can enhance your life today by making the internal and external decision to talk less, ask more questions, and understand the meaning before acting. Essentially slow down and comprehend before you act, 50% of your productivity is dependant on it.