Learning active listening .. on public transport

Public transport is a great observatory for human behaviour. 
I notice that most people, myself included, prefer to drown out the noise with earphones of some sort: squeaking wheels, rumbling engines, boring announcements don’t make for a good soundtrack for our commuting lives. We’d rather prefer our favourite music or a podcast or a movie to the cacophony that surrounds us. 
Occasionally though you get yanked out of the commuter reverie by someone talking. Often because the voice is at a higher frequency than the captivating sounds in our ears. You turn the volume down, & eavesdrop on this conversation that, at first, sounds like an argument. But no. It’s the local fishing enthusiast, explaining to the tourist-y looking types, about the best spots to go fishing. They’re doing a day trip into the city but want to check out the outdoors tomorrow. No, you don’t need a boat. Walk down that leafy lane, & you’ll see a little path – only if you look carefully. Here, look at what I caught there  yesterday. (Loud guard announcement drowns out the rest of the conversation). 
Every now & then, I forget my earphones or to charge the laptop or to carry a book. On those commutes, I learn something about the community I live in.  I also get to practice my listening skills. 
Not because I want to know the juicy details of that story the two women who can’t (won’t?) keep their voices down, but because I have no choice than to keep my mouth shut.
If I approached the same listening-to-speaking ratio in other areas of my life, I wonder what I’d discover?


How do we know when we’re having a conversation?
Does it require the presence of another person?
Does it require them to actively participate? To speak? and/or listen?
How do we know they’re listening? That what we’ve said has been heard?

Trying to get the kids out of bed this morning (the dreary weather continues) got me thinking about this.
I knew they were awake because I could hear them whispering amongst themselves.
Singing out a cheery “good-morning kids” got me no respnose.
Calling out each one by name from the hall got me no response.
Raising my voice got no response.

Make a blog entry online is a similar challenge.
The motivation to write is so I can get these thoughts out of my head & into the ether.
However, rarely (never) has anyone replied to anything I’ve written.

The kids spoke to me when they were ready.
I guess the same is true here too.

Communicating also means Listening: [Article]

I quite often forget that listening is as important as speaking in communication. Dave Winer had a very pertinent post about this a couple of days ago:

I tend to do a lot of talking myself, I’m aware of it, so I try to reign it in. Tell my mind to listen and not talk. That’s hard for some reason, but it’s important. Otherwise why bother spending time with others? I can hear myself talk any time. This is a different person across the table. Someone I don’t see every day. What’s their experience? What can I learn from them? I want to know. And if I can’t get my mind to quiet down, none of that happens.

Good Vibrations [Article]

Salesforce’s +JP Rangaswami writes eloquently about picking up good vibrations. Articulating the various reasons he listens as a person, he makes his point emphatically:

We’re at a point in time when it’s become possible for us to listen to our customers.

When we listen to our customers, it’s worth thinking about the hows and whys of listening. To serve. To learn. To enjoy. To protect against danger. To spot patterns. To respond as needed.