Life’s Little Lessons: Listening

Conversations seldom are.

Conversations dans le verger : David Président !

For me at least, my mind is rarely present:

  • My mind races to think of what point I want to make next
  • I’m thinking about the lunch meeting that I’m having or just had
  • I’m putting together the final pieces of a project
  • My mind is on the email I received just before the meeting
  • I need to respond to the text I just received
  • My wife just called, should I check the voicemail? What if it’s urgent?

I’m perpetually distracted, and despite how much I convince myself that they won’t notice, they do. Conversations require listening, interest even. If rudeness alone doesn’t turn your head, efficiency should. Distraction leads to 20% lower performance and comprehension, which means both your conversation and the other task suffer.

Make the person sitting across from you feel like they are the only thing in the world that matters. Don’t be distracted, and you will earn trust, bring out the best in them, and probably accomplish something.

Try a few of these easy techniques to reduce distraction:

  • Make eye contact
  • Put your phone into DND mode (iOS 7 allows you to ignore interruptions and only receive notifications of “emergencies”)
  • Close the door or go to a place where you won’t be interrupted
  • Ask questions
  • Take notes
  • Listen with your body (nod, lean into the conversation, avoid being “closed”)
  • Pause. Allow the exchanges to have room to breathe
  • Avoid oneupmanship

Most importantly, practice active listening. In fact, as you practice, ask the other person, “do you feel like I heard you?” This simple question can not only garner some interesting feedback, it also shows that you care.

Image used via creative commons license from David President.

Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.