Journalism was not in the plans of the former university student in organizational psychology, but the course was not what she expected and, while looking for a job “to pay the bills”, she proposed to write in a free newspaper and in a local publication with national distribution. One of the articles captured the New York Times. Since then, he collaborates with several titles and listening remains his working tool. “It was an accidental career,” he admits. With a reserved nature, he prefers to listen to talk, but the publication of his first book has changed their minds, reversing their roles. He asked for the conversation to be on audio: “I like being backstage more, without being the center of attention.” Let us therefore focus on what she has to say.
What led you to become deeply interested in this topic?
Listening is an art that is being lost in the 21st century. We are taught to value the importance of speaking, leading conversations and leaving a mark, without realizing that we only obtain information and learn through listening, the most powerful form of communication.
Why don't we do it more often?
It is a cultural issue: speaking counts more, listening is synonymous with submission. When a child is told, “Listen to what I say!”, He realizes that he will be scolded or did something wrong. It is a whole psychology that shapes us from an early age and that technology has only emphasized.
In social media, people do nothing more than project, share opinions, which is far from involving the other. The environment in which we move does not help: in a restaurant, in a store, music and noise are a constant presence, it is necessary to speak louder to be heard. If this ability is not used atrophy, as with a muscle that is not exercised.
However, podcasts are enjoying unprecedented popularity. In the book he uses the expression podfasting. What do you mean by that?
People love it because it allows them to do other things at the same time and they can speed up, pass on what they are hearing. Nobody pays exclusive attention to a podcast, it is in the background while exercising or preparing dinner. People cannot bear to be silent with their thoughts. No wonder it is difficult for them to hear someone else. We can only be intimate with someone if we are able to hear. If we can't do it with us, even less with others.
What has evolved since the studies of Ralph Nichols, father of research in this field?
He had the merit of showing how we are so bad listeners through a very simple experience: after listening to a 15-minute lecture, the people in the sample only managed to pay attention to half, even though they knew they were being tested.
Furthermore, he drew attention to the fact that, in the presence of dissenting points of view, it could be me, and not necessarily the other, who is wrong. It's just that you don't even let him talk, in what I call the “culture of cancellation”.
Yes, obliterating the other without giving any chance to any kind of connection: stop talking to him, delete content or remove his profile from the network of virtual friends, without wanting to know what he thinks and, even less, be willing to listen. with an open or receptive attitude. Isn't it common practice to ask “what does this person know that I don't know”?
To that extent, who has hearing loss can be at a great disadvantage.
No doubt. Helen Keller, who was deaf and dumb, said that deafness was more painful for her, isolated her from others. Interestingly, during the confinement, I received letters in which they confessed to me that they became more aware of this isolation, imposed by social distance. They realized how emotionally distant they were, deaf compared to those in their lives. Without paying due attention to them, relationships were suspended, unable to develop.
Did you confess regret, missed opportunities due to lack of attention?
I receive daily emails from readers who have rethought their way of being during quarantine, with results they didn't expect: getting a job or starting a stable relationship, for example. They made an effort to get closer to the people they were with and those they were physically separated from, calling them at least once a week. A man told me that he started by asking friends what they saw from his window, which opened the door to a series of interesting and intimate conversations. He thanked me for that, opening up to others asking only “what do you see?”, “How are you?”, “What do you feel?” and listen, effectively, to what they had to say.
Does the willingness to listen involve a gender issue?
It is often said that women are better listeners than men. It is discussed whether it is a cultural or genetic thing. Personally and professionally, I can say that there are excellent male listeners, just as there are terrible women listening to others. For me, it is the same as saying “all men are taller than women”. It will have more to do with individual factors than with a gender issue.
What is the relationship between attentive listening and brain processing? Talks in the book about the role of the amygdala.
Fear and anxiety inhibit the willingness to listen. A neuroscientist explained to me that the brain reacts like a bear when our beliefs and opinions are challenged. If we exercise the ability to think, we can calm the activity of the amygdala and lower the fear response. How is this done? Asking the other, for example, “how did you come to that opinion?” or inviting him to say more about the subject, also asking us: “Let me see the dressing on what you are saying”. It is a creative process that allows us to establish and deepen connections.
Why are we so afraid to listen to others?
We all want to be loved and we fear being rejected if we do not have the same record, it is a very primary thing to think that the other has to be on our side.
In his research he studied rumors or rumors. Why do we listen to them so much?
I was impressed with the number of investigations carried out in this field! Although frowned upon, rumors are used to obtain valuable social information about how we affiliate with each other and issues of a moral nature.
When talking about someone in his absence, we are trying to understand what is appreciated or not, whether we have an ally or an opponent there.
In the business world, the term “active listening” is frequently used. What can you say about that?
There is a lot of talk about what a person who actively listens to looks like, but little of what it is. Nod your head, say “uhm, uhm”, paraphrase what the other says or keep your mouth shut so you don't look like you're going to interrupt. However, what defines a good listener is the way he responds to the person in front of him: with an open mind and without being distracted by what is going on around him or getting lost in his thoughts. To do so is to diminish the importance of the other and his narrative, to pass by what he feels without trying to understand what he means. Furthermore, it is only during a genuine conversation that the interlocutor gains clarity about what he wants to say.
He also studied what the giant Google did eight years ago, about communication styles.
They wanted to understand the factors that supported a good team: whether it was age, hobbies, school attended and many others. After three years of research and a lot of data collection, what have you reached? Only this: in successful teams you listen to each other. People only share ideas without fear of being rejected when they have psychological security so they can be themselves and say what they think.
What can you lose by not being a good listener? Any myth that needs to be overturned?
The most powerful position in communication is not in speaking, but in listening, which is present in the way we engage, learn and fall in love. Listening is essential in any form of successful relationship The pandemic showed this: when we had to close ourselves at home, keep our distance and wear a mask, we realized how connections with others are the joy of life, the reason why we are here and for which we will be remembered.
The Katy Murphy content and the power of listening: “We can only be intimate with someone if we are able to hear. If we can't do it with us, even less with others ”appears first in Visão.