No wonder listening is so hard

The reason humans find it so hard to be good listeners is beautifully explained in today’s NYTimes,”The Science and Art of Listening,” a piece by Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist at Brown University. Potential distractions flood your ears every fifty-thousandth of a second to alert you to possible dangers so it’s tough to keep your focus on what you are listening to, Horowitz notes. Indeed, listening tunes our brains to our surroundings faster than any other sense. How’s that for an excuse the next time someone says, “You never listen to me.” Horowitz, author of “The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind,” does offer some hope, however. We can train ourselves to be better listeners by listening to the sounds under the words, the emotions. Such listening is the first critical step to powerful communication. I’m taking it on with the next conversation I have. How about you?


About msvoss

Melinda Voss, MPH, APR, is a freelance writer, editor and public relations specialist. A staff writer for The Des Moines Register and Tribune for nearly 26 years, she has won regional and national awards and taught undergraduate and graduate journalism courses at three universities. In 1999, she earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota after co-founding the Association of Health Care Journalists in 1997. Voss initially served as the association's unpaid coordinator, then became the executive director from 1999 to 2004. She then became the public relations director for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and served in that position until November 2012. She earned her APR, an accreditation in public relations, in 2011.
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2 Responses to No wonder listening is so hard

  1. Jamie says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. I look forward to reading it soon. I’ve worked hard on being a better listener and for me, listening with an attitude of curiosity makes all the difference. I’ve also written about listening on my blog, if you’re interested.

  2. Melinda Voss says:

    I love that. Curiosity or a sense of wonder can help too. Both of these can help dismantle the sense that I often bring to a conversation, which is, “I already know that……” and I quit listening. Almost always a mistake. I will check out the listening essays on your blog.

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