Plenty of people believe multitasking is a skill but new research indicates it is actually a hindrance to listening effectively. In this video you can see examples of why it is better to focus on one task rather than trying to complete several all at once.
- Hey, have you talked to Ron lately? - Um, (sighs) no, I haven't seen him. What's going on? - Okay, so. So, okay so the job front situation is blowing up, so the old place now has a new job description for him, so they're trying to keep him from leaving. - Right. - And the new place just offered him more money. So... - Oh! That's a good problem to have, right? - Well, a good problem to have, but now what is he going to do? He could stay and have a more exciting job or he could leave and make more money. - What is he going to do? - Um, probably ask to have lunch with us so he can decide. (laughs) I don't know what he's going to do. - He should. He should call us. - I know. But, I don't know, that would be actually a good problem to have, so... - Exactly! - I know, I know. He's good at what he does. - How did he get that other place to bump up the offer? - I think he told them that he had another offer. I mean, isn't that how you make more money. (phone clatters) - He just used the offer? - Yeah! - For leverage? - Yeah, he's smart. He's a smart guy. - Against one another? Sure - That is awesome. I know. As you can see from the scenario, multitasking is a huge barrier to good listening. In this day and age, when we are constantly connected to everyone at once, it's so tempting to allow ourselves to be distracted. Author Marshall Goldsmith defines great listening as the ability to make another person feel as though he or she is the only other person in the room. I certainly didn't make Tatiana feel like that during our conversation just now. Now, you may argue that you are an excellent multitasker, that you can really pay attention to someone while you're doing something else. I'm going to challenge you a little bit on that assumption. More and more research indicates that multitasking is actually harming, not helping, our efficiency and productivity. One such study proved that people actually end up making more errors and slowing down overall work time when they are trying to switch back and forth between tasks. If I'm toggling back and forth between listening to one person and reading a text from another, I stand to make mistakes in understanding them both. Nor do I stand to really save any time in my day. After I misunderstand Tatiana, she's going to have to repeat what she was saying to begin with and I've gained nothing. I've lost her confidence and trust because I've not been a good listener. Let's consider two alternatives to my first conversation with Tatiana. I could've really given her my attention, stopped typing immediately, ignored my phone, and the papers on my desk. I could have focused on her and made her feel as though she were the only person in the room. Or, if that's impossible right at the moment, I could've said, "I am swamped right now. Can I come find you at lunch when I can be a better listener?" Remember, multitasking, as tempting as it is, is not your friend if you want to be a good listener.
- Define attentive listening.
- Explore what happened when you are distracted by delivery.
- Recall what a mental filter is and how it can affect assumptions.
- Explore methods for choosing the best paraphrasing response in the situation.
- List the five listening intentions.