Listening Doggy Style

Why We Should Be More Like Our Pups

 

We all love our dogs. They’re loyal, they comfort us in times of need and protect in times of home burglars. But the most significant canine trait is often overlooked. Dogs are great listeners. People not so much. In fact, any dog lover will tell you that pooches have the uncanny ability to knowingly and patiently look you the eye as you pour out your heart. The result? You almost always feel better after you’ve unburdened yourself because you feel heard. Interpersonal communication authority (and dog lover) Jeff Lazarus, author of Listen Like a Dog and Make Your Mark On the World, recently spoke with WellWell about our pet’s most desirable attribute and why it’s important that we take a lead from our four-legged friends.

Why has attentive listening become so difficult?

Listening has always been difficult but I think it’s becoming worse. We have become an output- driven society. We teach, practice and honestly love output and we can’t wait for the opportunity to create more output. For example, my undergraduate degree was in speech communication. An entire degree based solely around different levels of communicating. There’s never going to be a degree on listening. We as a society just don’t focus on that side of the communication equation.

In the book you mention our award culture. So, is vanity simply to blame?

I think vanity has a lot to do with it. We don’t practice creating listeners, we practice finding ways to be heard. We sign up on social media accounts and we blast out things that we think are important, like what we’re having for dinner because we feel like it’s important. That’s the vanity you’re talking about. The bottom line is that listening is not sexy.

Beyond not being able to speak, what makes dogs better listeners?

When dogs sit with you, they can lie down next to you for long periods of time. They make eye contact, all of which makes for a great listener. But what’s equally important is what the dog doesn’t do. Dogs won’t judge you, create bad opinions about you based on what you’re saying or interrupt you.

So you’re saying dogs won’t try and one up each other. Is natural human competition a factor?

Yeah it’s a lot of fighting for attention. Like,” Ok, ok. I’m listening to you. When are you done? So when’s it my turn?” Everybody wants to be heard. And that’s what Facebook and Instagram have become about.

So social media’s ability to communicate without being face to face has made it easier to not listen and to be less active in a conversation? And this has created to a society that is less able to listen and just into talking?


Absolutely. We are actually eliminating listening even more. Everyone thinks that we have so many ways to communicate now. We have texting, Facebook, and Instagram but the truth is we have found more ways to avoid each other. This has gotten so ridiculous that people have real conversations, arguments, confess their love via texts. In fact, there will be a day, unfortunately that this interview will be conducted by text. You won’t want to talk to me. You’ll say, “Just text me your answers.”

In addition to competition, you also mentioned fear as one of the largest reasons for poor listening habits. What are the typical fears that cause these habits to form?

There are a couple big ones. Number one is fear of hearing something that we don’t like. So if we think something’s coming or this is going to hurt me or this is going to make me mad, then I’m going to tune them out, interrupt them or divert the conversation. Another fear is losing control. If I just listen, I’m going to worry that I’m not going to get to speak. They’re just going to talk on and on. It’s the fear of not being heard or losing control.

How do we turn this whole thing around? How do we as a society begin to listen to each other?

We have to embrace the topic as being important then take on the task of changing our habits, recognizing what they are and working very hard to change them. Whilst in a conversation be cognizant, willing and excited to not only say your piece but to hear who’s you’re talking to. Recognition, that’s step one. In essence, take a cue from your dog.


 

About
Jeff Lazarus

Jeff Lazarus is a healthcare professional who has worked with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. His work with healthcare leaders has led to the betterment of the lives of many. He has served as a scientific liaison to physicians, academicians and health educators and has also been recognized as a leader in process improvement. Mr. Lazarus has a BA in speech communication, with an emphasis in interpersonal and organizational communication, from California State University, Long Beach, and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He has taught public speaking at the university level and conducted numerous workshops on listening, presentation skills, customer engagement and branding. An unabashed dog lover, he is the author of Listen Like A Dog…and Make Your Mark on the World and Dogtology, a whimsical exploration of humankind’s fanatical devotion to our canine companions. The second version of Dogtology was released simultaneously with the now international triple-besteller; Catakism…Bow to the Meow, a humorous exploration of humankind’s fanatical devotion to cats.

To learn more, please visit: 
https://www.facebook.com/ListenLikeDog/
https://soundcloud.com/user-319055686/listen-like-a-dog 

 

 

 

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