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Listening Filters: Ear Plugs At Their Worst

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In communication, listening counts twice as much. That’s why, as we’ve all heard at one point or another, we have two ears and only one mouth. But what happens when our unconscious filters become ear plugs?

According to Peter Vajda, author of the article Do Your Filters Stop You From Hearing, we’ve all adopted certain listening filters that begin in childhood and mature with us into adulthood. This skill is a learned behavior and tends to leave most of us unaware of its presence in our brains as we age. In fact, now that I’ve read this article, I can safely say that I am someone who is (or was) totally in the dark about the habit. And yet, reading the different categories of listening filters, it’s easy to recognize the different ways I personally interpret conversations. Even more enlightening, I now have a sense as to why I react to certain people in particular ways. Suddenly, the demeanor with which I conduct various conversations makes perfect sense now!

Below are the examples of listening filters Vajda brings to light:

I need to fix you

When this filter is active, you might respond to your boss’ or partner’s comment by saying, “Why don’t you sit down and relax for a few minutes,” because you feel you need to prescribe to, or “fix” someone.

I need to judge you

If you’ve grown up with the belief that you have to be a judge of others’ actions, your listening filter might lead you to respond, for example, with “You’ve had such an easy morning, what do you have to be upset about?”

Look what just happened to me!

If you have been raised as one who constantly compares yourself to others, you might respond with “You think you’re upset, let me tell you about how upset I am!”. This grows out of a need to hijack another’s experience and make it your own; the conversation then morphs into a conversation that is “all about me”.

ear muffs

© Flickr user neinarson

Okay, so you’ve read the different examples of listening filters. But now the question becomes, why does this matter when it comes to my job? You may be thinking: I may have filters in my personal life, but certainly not at my office. Well, think again.

No matter how easy it may be to convince yourself that your ear muffs disappear the moment you arrive at your workplace, they really don’t. After all, it’s an unconscious behavior–we are can’t be aware of it until we are made aware of it. So, let’s take the first step together and admit we filter what others say. There, now don’t you feel better?

Active listening is more productive than merely hearing. Partaking in a discussion and listening without filters creates an engaging atmosphere; one in which is characterized by comprehension rather than misinterpretation. Suddenly, as we lift the unspoken barriers our ears and our brain create, we find that problem solving is easier to manage. Our time is being utilized productively, and our potential to engage in successful, working relationships is not just possible, but attainable.

All this and you’ve done nothing more than filter out your filters to get to the meat of the conversation. Vajda concludes:

The moment you become aware that you’re listening through a filter during a conversation, your awareness expands beyond them. It’s like consciously removing the things that are covering your ears. Suddenly you can hear what other people are actually saying and you start to engage with another on a higher level with real connectivity.

Being highly productive is a complex task. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to get a handle in one portion of business, you soon discover yet another kink that needs improvement. Business process improvement is constantly evolving. So focus on the solutions rather than the problems. With each new discovery comes a new step in the right direction.

To learn more about gaining momentum in your office, reach out to the experts at AccelaWork today.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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