Saturday, August 30, 2008

Listen Now, Hear me later.

I suddenly have this urge to listen. Not sure when it started but its there and it is not going away. So this week I am going to talk about LISTENING

One on One listening
Listening in a Group
Listening to the the World
Listening to Oneself
Listening Tools
Deterrents to Listening, the Noise.

One on One listening:
Face to Face listening, mostly falls into two categories, Same time/Same Place and Same time/Different Place but they both involve direct one on one conversations. The stake of each participant in the conversation defines the intensity with which they listen. The higher the stake, the greater the intensity. It could be a conversation with a child, spouse, significant other, a friend, an acquaintance, a relative, colleague, superior, the list goes on. Fact remains that in a conversation you have to listen, which defines the quality of the exchange of information. Listening is a such an integral part of our lives that we seldom stop to measure how well we listen or how much we gain out of a conversation. How well we listen also depends on the deterrents to listening, the Noise that comes into play as we listen. A lot of the noise is our own mental chatter, our predispositions and our confirmational biases that we have grown to accept as part of our make up. Srikumar Rao has talked about mental chatter in his book " Are you ready to Succeed" . Any good Knowledge management book or course will tell you that Confirmational Bias is a strong deterrent to effective listening. So there is a good chance that we dont listen effectively at all and perhaps we should start paying attention.
Listening in a Group:
Again as in the One on One listening, Listening in a Group, falls into the two categories of Time/Place. In a social setting when there are more than a few folks interacting, listening can take on a different path. If the group comprises of like minded people, you will hear what you always wanted to hear and what sustains your interest in the subject. In a group, listening follows the traditional norm of followers and leaders. We tend to listen to a strong leader more than the collective intelligence. We often prefer listening to the trickle down from a few strong leaders still after so many years of evolution. So what does it take to listen to the collective intelligence?. To understand that, we need to look at how the social media movement has generated listening tools and how these tools can provide us plethora of avenues to fine tune our listening skills.
Listening to the the World:
An extension of listening in a Group, listening to the world is becoming far more possible in the 21st century. We do hear more about Wars, famine, hunger, disasters and we hear about them faster than we did in the past. Development in Media and technology has pushed the envelope to the point where we are starting to see an information overload. We cant listen effectively to it all, but we can listen effectively to what we choose to. We are a planet of 6 billion people, of which today may be a billion can tap into the resources through the internet, telling us that we have a long way to go, and we should get there sooner than later.
On a side note, for those of you are into technology, we will run out of IP (IPv4) addresses spaces in the next 3 to 4 years, so get ready for a change to IPv6. We might have to revisiting our addressing technology on the whole.
Listening to Oneself:
Listening to ourself has become so engrained into us that we seldom stop to think of how we do it. Unless ofcourse you are studing the congnitive process in a academic setting. But it is important particularly becuase of the mental chatter I mentioned before. This mental chatter has a way of distracting us from effectively listening. There have been various forms of meditation tracks that have tools to manage the mental chatter, but we seldom have the time or inclination to work at fine tuning the art of Listening to Oneself.
Listening Tools:
In IT Operations management, listening tools are huge, and so are Unattended Event Notifications that are driven out of the listening tools. As human beings we have invented these tools that can help us manage our business. There are some pretty incredible algorithms and slick methods developed that help us with the competitive advantage. So why not scale those techniques down to the individual? We are slowly starting to see a progression in that direction. There are many technology evangelists like Chris Brogan who are pushing the envelop in this area, perhaps we should all STOP and LISTEN.
Deterrents to Listening, the Noise:
Finally deterrents to listening: If you lived on a farm or in a remote place, they say the pace is slower. They say you dont need to multitask as much. They say your head is clearer, the air is sweeter, the water more refreshing and so on and so forth. In fact those of us who can afford it even take vacations to sleepy villages in Portugal to enjoy this serenity. Deterrents to Listening is the lack of serenity perhaps and does not have to be limited to some places/some times? So what does it take to reduce the deterrents to Listening?.

I really belive it takes more that using tools to manage your time better. It take more than following the 7 habits of succeful people, and countless others who have made it rich by writing books about how to effectively manage your precious time.

It really might be as simple as listening to your self once in a while. Leave your confirmational biases at the door, and start LISTENING, it might just make a difference.

Thats my Saturday morning Rant for this labor day weekend. Happy Listening.

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