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People Who Can Understand Things Quickly Are Not Gifted, They Just Know How to Listen

People Who Can Understand Things Quickly Are Not Gifted, They Just Know How to Listen

We all change our “technique” when needed… Using different strategies while playing any kind of sport to better counteract our opponents, being a different kind of parent to our children of different ages and even speak differently to different people to get their attention back to us…

And yet, knowing very well that we need to keep changing ourselves to better adapt to the situation, we don’t really change our listening technique at all. Despite being in different situations, we sit back and listen, the way we always do. There’s a lot of difference in listening to a speech, an interactive talk, a lecture, a song, a stand-up show – but do we really use our listening differently to better adapt to these different situations? Frankly, the answer is likely to be a no, and the mismatch is as evident as is beer served in a wine glass!

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The solution: Change our modes of listening, to better suit the different occasions.

You Can Truly Understand What Is Being Said When You Can Switch Your Listening Modes Properly

Different “speaking” situations demand that we adapt to them by using different listening techniques. A simple example of this would be three very different situations we often face in office – that of getting a directive from our seniors, attending a training module or having a luncheon conversation with colleagues. All three situations demand that we use different listening techniques for we have to remember the first one, learn from the second and empathize with the third. So then, the three most commonly used listening types are:

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Informative Listening

When you listen to learn something or collect information from – this is called informational or informative listening. This kind of listening holds true in many diverse situations – attending a lecture or training module, listening to the news or a documentary, asking and then listening to the answer of a question you have, listening to an asked-for recipe… Diverse situations but all of these have a commonality – you are paying attention to what is being said and basically listening to something that is giving your information that you want, need or deem necessary. [1]

  • For informative listening, switch off those wandering thoughts and keep those distractions away. Listen to the words and try and remember as much of them as you can. You are basically downloading a set of directives or directions – so listen, understand and retain as much of it as you can.
  • Informative listening can also be called active or attentive listening – where you consciously direct all your attention to the speaker and listen to the words being said.

Critical Listening

Critical listening is not listening with a critical or jaundiced view, rather, it’s the next step in learning where you evaluate and scrutinize all that is being said and figure how much of it holds true in different contexts and how much of it have you truly understood. This is also the time to raise your doubts and ask your questions, once the speaker has finished his talk, so as to truly understand what is being said.

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Examples of this are instructional and educational talks, lectures and courses, conversations with doctors, technical experts and much more… The end idea is to learn and remember for future use.[2]

  • To be in a critical listening mode, you have to be attentive and listen to all that the speaker is saying and also try and read between the lines, instead of talking the words on just a literal scale. Make notes if you want, and make sure to raise your hand and ask those questions at the end – you have to be clear on the understanding and comprehension of all you listened to. You can also choose to digress from or argue a point if you disagree about something.
  • Critical Listening is often also synonymous with deep or reflective listening where you listen to more than just the words, and then think about all that you have understood or not, trying to glean as much as you can through introspection and doubt clarification.

Empathetic Listening

This is akin to lending your shoulder for someone to cry on – empathetic listening exists purely as friendly shoulder where you listen to and feel from the place the speaker is coming from so as to commiserate, empathize or even help the speaker in any way you can. While this is used in relationships be it family, friends or lovers – empathetic listening is also employed by professionals such as therapists, doctors or even lawyers where they listen to their clients’ tale of woes with an open ear and a friendly expression to better get to the root of the problem.

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Good marketing and sales professionals also employ this tactic to better understand their clients’ need and provide them with tailor-made solutions.[3]

  • For empathetic listening, you have to listen to more than just what is being said – the body language, the emotions behind the words all come into play for you to truly understand all that the speaker is trying to make you envisage. Imagine yourself in the speaker’s place and you will begin to understand the situation in better detail – for you to help the speaker as you can, as a professional or simply as a friend.
  • Relationship listening (where attentive listening happens due to an active interest in maintaining or furthering a relationship), sympathetic listening (where you share the pain of the speaker), dialogic listening (where you enter into a conversation to really understand the speaker better) and therapeutic listening (where you listen and try to offer help or advice, mostly a professional caregiver) all come under empathetic listening.

So there you have it, the way we use different tools to crack different hardware, or even use different cutlery to eat different cuisine – similarly when it comes to listening, we need to use different skills and techniques to better listen and understand what is being said.

Reference

[1] AU: Types of Listening
[2] Work 911: Listen Critically
[3] Beyond Intractability: Empathic Listening

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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