In Episode Five, we discuss the difference between listening to respond and listening to understand. While you are watching these blank screen videos, or any video for that matter, you are listening for the sole purpose of understanding. There is no expectation for you to respond, it would actually be pretty weird if you did. Your mind has one assignment which is to comprehend the information being presented. Let us put you in a conversation instead. Not only do you have to comprehend the information being presented, but now you are expected to provide a response. Our brain is assigned to two full time jobs, to listen to understand and provide a response. Our brain can get overwhelmed, and it decides the only way to fix this is to flip flop between the tasks.

Let us take a look at how our brain flip flops. While someone is talking, our brain is flip flopping between active listening and coming up with responses, listening and coming up with responses, and then listening. While it is coming up with responses, our brain omits some of the information that we heard. Instead of doing a great job listening, and a great job coming up with responses as two separate jobs, we make the classic mistake. We end up listening to respond. Since both people are probably listening to respond, both people start to get frustrated, and the conversation diverges a bit. We ended up with two people having the exact same conversation ending up in two completely different places. Because we miss out on the information that we omitted, when we were coming up with responses, we end up with a communication gap.

When that communication gap gets wide enough, there are usually two responses. One, someone completely shuts down. They realize they are not being heard and understood, and they get discouraged. This is usually when the phrase comes out; “You’re not listening to me.” We have all heard that one before. We naturally say back, “I am listening.” “No, you’re not.” “Yes, I am.” The conversation derails because we are listening to respond, rather than listening to understand. So, the next time someone is talking to you, watch as your brain starts coming up with responses while they are speaking. If we refocus on listening to understand, paraphrase what they have told us and then generate our responses; we can catch ourselves here. You might even prove to the person you are talking to that you were actually listening without having to say so. Thank you for reading the blog post for episode five. Check us out on YouTube. We will see you in the next episode!

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