The age of multitasking and the technology that makes much of it possible offers certain gains to society.
And, the age of multitasking and the technology that makes much of it possible offers certain losses to society.
Case in point: I’ve been a major fan of digital video recorders since my first TiVo back in 1999. The technology changed my life, allowing me to watch what television I chose to watch exactly when I chose to watch it.
Then and now, my favorite button on the digital video recorder remote control was and is the instant replay button. Maybe something is so good you want to hear or see it again. Sometimes, I want to be certain the people I’m with heard it loud and clear. Either way, that single button has alleviated much confusion and concern in my life — not to mention that it’s settled a few arguments, as well.
However, there’s a flip side. The flip side with the constant permission and capability to “go-back eight seconds and hear it again” when watching television is that I’ve noticed oftentimes I don’t listen nearly as closely as I once did. Why? Because I can always hit that little button and have a video version of a do-over. Yes, it works fine for television, but you see where this is headed, don’t you?
I first noticed the problem in my car listening to the radio. Occasionally, when I miss a phrase, my gut reaction is to hit the “go-back” button and hear it again.
Radio has no go-back button.
Neither does the rest of the world. Real life simply doesn’t offer instant replays.
While technology has given us many gifts, it’s also robbing us of some of the biggest rewards of a sophisticated society. If we allow technology or anything else to diminish accurate and active listening, I’m not sure how far we’ve come.
It’s the old two ears/one mouth axiom. According to nature, we should listen twice as much as we talk. The benefits of becoming better listeners are ample and help us to:
» Earn respect from others. Ye olde “You can’t get respect until you give it.”
» Learn more. You’ll be amazed at all you can pick up — not only from the sheer amount of information you hear, but also in how it sounds. If you start listening for nuances in the way people speak, including their tone, rhythm and volume — all those vocal characteristics generally have a specific meaning attached. Listening helps decode patterns and subtexts of what people are saying — or not saying.
» Make better decisions. Gathering information from different sources not only makes us better people, but it leads to having better lives built on better choices.
» Build better relationships. If you’re having problems getting along with folks, make a conscious effort to really listen to what they’re saying. You’ll pick up some cues on what to do to make things better. It’s up to you in what to do with that information.
» Become more creative. By listening to more, you naturally become more open to more ideas.