Listening in a Mobile World

In Brief:

  • With all of those distractions, how do we ensure that we’re not just hearing others, but actually listening to what they have to say?
  • So how do we balance the need to be accessible, while being engaged listeners?

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Nadine Nelson
Author: Nadine Nelson

With over 20 years of experience in higher education in marketing, enrollment management and student financial services, Nadine joined the Nelnet Campus commerce team in May 2018. She is passionate about marketing, the client experience and delivering on the brand promise. Born and raised in South Africa, Nadine came to the U.S. as an international student and completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing and a Master degree in Business Administration at Andrews University in Michigan. Nadine is a champion of the student experience and loves to mentor young professionals. She resides in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Vaughan and children Adele (7) and Brendan (4) – they love traveling, playing and family time.

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Blog Post

We all probably like to think we’re a good listener. After all, we wouldn’t be able to work with others if we weren’t able to listen, right?

Well, as writer G.K. Chesterton once put it, “There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”

Technology has forever changed the way in which we interact with others. Each day we “hear” a lot, and with mobile technology, we’re able to take in information virtually any time, anywhere. But how much of that are we actually “listening” to? And while most of us think we’re good at multi-tasking, science says otherwise.

A few quick stats:
  • The average office worker receives 122 emails per day[1]
  • The average person sends/receives 32 text messages per day[2]
  • The average person makes/answers 6 phone calls per day[2]

With all of those distractions, how do we ensure that we’re not just hearing others, but actually listening to what they have to say?

Julian Treasure, founder and chairman of The Sound Agency, has created a helpful acronym to facilitate better listening, RASA.
  • Receive – Let the person know what they’re saying is being received.
  • Appreciate – Provide verbal and audio cues to acknowledge your appreciation of what is being said.
  • Summarize – The word “so” is very important when recapping what you’ve just listened to.
  • Ask – Ask questions afterwards. Clarify, challenge and educate.
So how do we balance the need to be accessible, while being engaged listeners?
  • Set expectations – If you’re in a meeting, on a conference call or even at a family gathering and know that you are likely to receive another call or need to multi-task, don’t try and be sneaky; let others know.
  • Be respectful – Don’t multi-task unless absolutely necessary.
  • No Phubbing – Phubbing (phone + snubbing) has become a common occurrence. We all like to think no one sees us texting under the table, but everyone knows what we’re doing, because they do the same thing. Do your best to be fully present during conversations by keeping your phone not just out of sight, but out of your hands.

Mobile technology will continue to change the ways in which we communicate with one another, but if we can remain focused on the art of listening, we’ll be able to cut through all the noise and effectively engage with our peers, friends and family.

[1] THE RADICATI GROUP, INC

[2] Informate Mobile Intelligence