Communication is the backbone of any successful company. In this artifice I want to look at our inability to remain present when people are communicating with us.
We all have people in our lives that we do not resonate with; people that we just don’t find that interesting. When we see these people, guess what we do? We switch off our hearing.
How do we do that?
There’s this thing in our brain called the ‘I know’ trigger and when it gets activated, we completely zone out.
Those of you that have teenagers, will probably have been on the receiving end of this trigger many times. You’ll be telling your child something that you feel is important, imparting your pearls of wisdom and all you are getting back from them is a blank, glazed stare. You keep talking ‘at them’ of course, hoping that what you have to say will sink in, but it’s futile; their ‘I know’ trigger has already been activated and all they are hearing from you is “blah, blah, blah”.
Most of us did this ourselves as teenagers and now that we’re adults, it’s like a perfected art.
Here’s an example…
Amongst your circle of friends and family, there may be that one person who you really hope you won’t ever get stuck talking to. You do your upmost to avoid them in social situations, but right when you least expect it, they corner you!
The conversation starts and you probably last about 30 seconds, before you go into shut down mode (I call this mode ‘entering Narnia’; it’s your own little happy space in your head, where there’s nobody there but you). You might nod and smile along whilst the other person is talking away, but really, you’re just on autopilot and not absorbing anything they say.
Finally, after about five minutes of being in a dream-like state, you snap back into the present with absolutely no recollection of the entire conversation.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Whenever this happens, your ‘I know’ trigger has been activated.
The challenge that we have is that often, our ‘I know’ kicks in more than we would really like it to.
The reality is, as the owner of a business or a leader of people you can’t afford not to be present; you must always be listening and learning. There might be something in a conversation of vital importance, which if you switch off, you’re going to miss.
Luckily, there’s a great technique for holding off the ‘I know’ and for keeping your listening going; all you need do is use the term ‘isn’t that interesting’.
Whenever you find yourself drifting off, think to yourself or vocalise the phrase ’isn’t that interesting’, and your brain won’t switch off your hearing; essentially, it keeps your ‘I know’ at bay.
It really is that simple.
Of course, it may be the case that 95% of what you’re now having to listen to isn’t interesting at all, but it’s that 5% which you don’t want to miss. By adopting this incredibly simple practise, you’re making sure that you don’t miss a trick and that you’re always on the ball.