The average person can retain 9 seconds of information. When "Are you listening?!" is long has the 'conversation' been going on? How much was missed? Or was 'versing' happening rather than 'conversing'? One of the speakers at the Virginia Dietetic Association's annual meeting defined active listening as a process with the following steps:

  • Engage in the full process of listening
  • Show involvement
  • Defer judgement
  • Provide appropriate feedback

While it may seem like listening is natural, sometimes we feel we aren't heard. Think of how frustrating it must be as a patient in a hospital to feel ignored, or to really need a friend to listen and have them be distracted. I think it's time we all took a look at the way we are listening and make some improvements.

If you're on the speaking end: If you're relaying important information in an interview or patient education be consice. Be clear in the message but don't drag it out. Remember, you have 9 seconds of attention. If you need an empathetic ear, let your listener know if you're not looking for advice, or if you want their take. With a clear intention you can say what you need without extra frustration.

If you're on the listening end: Pay attention! Be in the NOW and stop checking your phone. Our speaker likened passing judgement or jumping the gun on giving out advice to a football player who has taken off running before they've even caught the ball. "Don't move without the individual." See if what they really need is empathy or just someone to listen.

Make it your goal this weekend to be an active listener! You have two ears and one mouth for a reason right?