Why I Read It
I was hoping to learn more about how humans hear, modern challenges to listening, and pick up some strategies to apply in my own life...because I think listening is a skill we're losing in this world of rapid-fire instantaneously gratifying TikToks/Reels/Shorts/Instant Messages/et al.
Getting into vinyl records has shown me just how far I've gotten from long stretches of afternoons torrenting albums, discovering new genres, and fully immersing myself in music as a teenager. The physical act of selecting a record, plopping the stylus down, swapping to the B side, and enjoying the album from start to finish, yes even the songs that don't grip me as much, made me realize how much effort and intention it takes to truly listen.
When it comes to engineering, or really embarking on any big project, Requirements Gathering is a critical phase, which imo hinges on listening more than it does on speaking your mind. Samesies for incident analysis and interviewing responders...the nuggets I've found out by giving an engineer time and space to share their on-call experience are unparalleled!
What I Learned
Among the most frequently cited bad listening behaviors are:
- Responding vaguely or illogically to what was just said
- Looking at a phone, watch, around the room, or otherwise away from the speaker
- Fidgeting (tapping on the table, frequently shifting position, clicking a pen, etc.)
^ which uh....interrupting/fidgeting is unfortunately an ADHD trait. People close to me know and understand this luckily. And fwiw I have found knitting/crocheting/doodling a mostly OK substitute for actual fidgeting when I have to sit and listen to presentations.
"Hearing is passive. Listening is active"
"Good listeners are not born that way, they become that way"
"Who does your inner voice remind you of? "
"A study by a British advertising buyer found that, on average, when people are at home, they switch between devices (phone, tablet, or laptop) twenty-one times per hour, all while the television is on in the background."
"In Western cultures, people tend to interpret silences longer than about half a second as disapproval, sanction or ostracism [...]"
Delicious New Words
- bon mot - witticism
- voluable - ready or rapid speech
- prosody - the patterns of stress and intonation in a language
- podfasting - listening to podcasts at 2x or 3x speed
- dint - force, power
iirc there are a couple "exercises for the reader to try" but on the whole this book explains the importance of listening and I found to be more inspiration to start building my listening muscles
i found that (a) listening is actually hard to do! (b) i am not great at it yet
I plan to follow up this read with a more tactical and practical guide with Listening to People: A Practical Guide to Interviewing, Participant Observation, Data Analysis, and Writing It All Up
norman is excellent at breaking out of containers 🤣