May is “Better Hearing and Speech” month, so listen up!

May is “Better Hearing and Speech” month, so listen up!

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
--Stephen R. Covey

As Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, we spend a lot of time hearing from our patients, clients, customers and key opinion leaders, but do we always understand what they are trying to tell us?  Are we REALLY listening?  Statistically speaking, we spend about 70-80% of our daily life engaged in some form of communication, and about 55% of that time listening.  Since our ears work faster than our mouths, we can listen to about 450 words per minute according to research.  However, how much is actually processed?  No surprise, only about 17-25%.  If you are wondering why you feel like the men in your lives are not listening, research shows that men only use half their brain to listen.  On the other hand, women engage both lobes.

Here are several tips to help improve your listening skills:

  • L = LEARN - Keep an open mind and consider every conversation an opportunity to learn something new, and to engage fully.
  • I = INTEREST - Ditch distractions and give the speaker your full attention.  Make every effort to avoid looking at your phone, watch, or the next person you may be interested in speaking to.
  • S = SHOW - Demonstrate you are listening by acknowledging what the other person is saying; smile, nod, and use positive facial expressions.
  • T = TURN - Patiently wait your turn and make sure not to interrupt or talk over the other person speaking.
  • E = EMPATHIC - Practice reflective listening to improve mutual understanding which will help to provide appropriate responses.
  • N = NOW - Resist the urge to think about what you have to do when you get home like cook dinner, laundry or put the kids to bed.  Instead, focus on the present and the conversation you are engaged in now.

Try incorporating some of these tips into your practice and really listening.  Bonus...you may just notice the men in your lives saying the word “What?” less often!

-Lisa Jones, MA, RDN, LDN, FAND, NE's DPG Delegate