CE Insight: Are We Really Listening?

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Before You Begin: Take a breath. Turn your attention to your body and release any tension. Breathe slowly into the area of your heart for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease. Stay connected to your body as you read. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

According to a survey, 96 percent of people think they are good listeners.

Yet research suggests people only retain about half of what others are saying. This means there is a disconnect between how good we think we are at listening and how good we actually are.

In order to explore this in ourselves, it might be useful to reflect and bring some conscious awareness to the picture.

I want to tell a quick story.

A couple of years ago I did a segment about how our modern society is often centred on disconnection.

I talked about how people often feel disconnected from themselves, nature, their work, and others... I found out this was an observation on alienation Karl Marx once pointed out as well... I mentioned that in the video.

Since I mentioned the words 'Karl' and 'Marx' in the same sentence, many people became very aggressive in the comments, expressing rants about socialism and communism, even though nothing in the video spoke of that at all.

This was a perfect example of how fast listening can shut down before we even hear a full thought or consider what someone is truly saying. It also illustrates how a single trigger word can cause us to shut down our curiosity and replace it with assumption.

As you might imagine, trigger words aren't the only thing that have us struggling to listen. People are often distracted, thinking about what they themselves are going to say next, or are assuming they know what the person will say next, leading to reduced listening and increased misunderstandings.

What's interesting to me is the interplay between poor listening skills and the very real challenges of our world today.

Given we need large-scale societal solutions at the moment, being able to discuss them, hear them, and properly explore them is important. It seems our larger collective challenges are indeed asking us to develop individually in order to create the space for collective change.

In my story above about the video segment I did, I went on to discuss some ideas around societal solutions. But again, because I said one word wrong, all meaningful discussions around my ideas were shut down.

In fact, I notice this with a lot of discussion around social change. No matter what is discussed, if someone can relay it back in some way to some previously existing system that didn't work, then bam, it's gone.

On one hand, a conversation can include constant complaining about our way of living in modern society, but then as the question of changing it for the better arises, my conversation partner is quick to their sword to defend our current way of life.

It's truly a fascinating observation to witness.

I know it scares people to imagine a different world, after all what would happen in the space between worlds? I get it, it's scary. But what's the alternative? To keep doing what we're doing?

Reflecting on Listening & Change

Perhaps something to think about is, do you find yourself giving all of your attention to someone, a video, or an article as you listen?

Do you notice any immediate resistance to change as you explore solutions? Is there fear of the unknown, of what things could look like?

What do you feel in your body when you think about changing the way our society works? What stories are attached to this?

It will take a good 15 minutes of undistracted attention to explore these questions within yourself. Is there resistance to even doing just that?

When I have people explore these questions it becomes clear we aren't always prepared to hold space for change. There is a lot of resistance. And even though we might talk like we want to change, it's a whole other thing to create a state of mind & being that is able to hold this process with an open mind and heart.

Perhaps this is why change starts within.

Transform you, transform the world.

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