Conversations of Distraction

As part of my daily routine traveling to work, I take the subway.

As I sit in my little part of the train, I can’t help but overhear the conversations around me. Dialogues, actually – the majority aren’t very conversational.

One in particular was a guy telling his girlfriend about issues he was going through at his workplace. How he was afraid that he was going to lose his job as he was having a major character clash with his supervisor.

The girl nodded a few times, then when the guy had finished she launched straight into a speech about her hair appointment later in the week.

No questions about her partner’s supervisor, or what was causing the clash. No comforting words.

Simply waiting until the talking had stopped and then into her own details.

It’s a common theme.

I’ve watched couples go through the motions of conversation but not really conversing.

I’ve sat in on business meetings before where someone is talking and you can clearly see who’s listening around the table and who isn’t.

And then they wonder why instructions weren’t carried out properly, or key points were missed.

So why aren’t we listening properly?

Have our attention spans really been eroded so much by incidental noise around us that we can no longer focus on the words behind the spoken ones?

Do we need to have something repeated to us before it really sinks in?

I’m not perfect – I know in the past I’ve been guilty of having selective hearing. Probably still am, if you ask my wife.

It’s something I had to work on, particularly when I went into business for myself. If I didn’t listen properly it was my livelihood.

With all the communication tools we have at our disposal today, perhaps we are distracted.

Perhaps the choice has made us lazier at filtering what’s noise and what’s important filler. Perhaps there’s a finer line than ever before between the two.

Whatever it is, one thing is clear – we aren’t listening as well as we’re hearing a lot of the time.

What’s your take? Are we listening less or am I off base? What’s your solution?

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