A photograph from a street at Yerevan, Armenia.

” When was the last time you listened to someone? Really listened, without thinking about what you wanted to say next, glancing down at your phone or jumping in to offer your opinion? ” – Kate Murphy

This message that I read somewhere really made me give a thought to it and decided to add my two cents to it. I did some reading on it and it can be realized that the above quote’s concern is actually pretty widespread in our day and age. It’s hard to find a good patient listener these days. Comparing to a few years back, I can relate that I really find a hard time reading a full-length editorial page or a long format post. Right after we delve in, we are constantly distracted by a notification or a call or something else of that sort. The short attention spans of people are the reason that most ads these days are very short. While exploring this theme and reading on it, I happened to read about Kate Murphy’s book titled “You’re not listening“. As she explains it, the theme is on the erosion of listening skills.  I’m yet to read it, but my initial impressions remain pretty optimistic.

“Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there.”

In its review, The Guardian referred to it as sort of an exploration into the modern epidemic of self-absorbed talk. They tag it with

” Restaurants are noisy, social media connections are shallow, giving a TED talk is living the dream. What happened to conversation? “

She writes:

“At cafes, restaurants and family dinner tables, rather than talking to one another, people look at their phones. Or if they are talking to one another, the phone is on the table as if a  part of the place setting, taken up at intervals as casually as a knife or fork, implicitly signaling that the present company is not sufficiently engaging…people just as reflexively reach for their phones. Like smokers and cigarettes, people get jittery without their phones.”

She puts in a lot of interesting statistics and some surveys on how quality time is sabotaged by the sheer absence of listening skills. I’m yet to read the book completely and have only gone through some excerpts. As I understand from reviews, she puts in a lot of interesting suggestions to better engage in profound conversations.  I’m looking forward to reading this sometime soon. She writes in the book  “Our devices indulge our fear of intimacy by fooling us into thinking that we are socially connected even when we are achingly alone.”

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