We’re all guilty of it. We do it with our children. We do it with our significant other. We even do it with our employers. We half-listen, nodding and grinning where appropriate but never really hearing a word. Our devices have become our lifelines. We’re always plugged in and never in the right place. The truth is we’re missing out on so much around us because we’re never fully tuned in to the world.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am the queen of people who never listen. Ask my children. It’s been years since I sat down and gave them my undivided attention and I’m not proud of it. I’ve missed out on so much. Arguments could have been avoided and missed appointments, late fees, and a host of other embarrassing gaffes didn’t have to happen. I finally had to admit I had a problem and do something about it.
There’s no magic elixir, no time machine, no ‘reclaiming my time’ because I dropped the ball repeatedly. I did what any self-respecting pseudo-intellectual would do: I researched the problem and looked for a solution. Here’s what I discovered: I’m not the only person in the world who does this. What a relief that was!

Now, here are a few simple solutions to break this bad habit and get you plugged into your life again:

Put your phone away. No kidding! You’re not fully engaged if you’re distracted by your news feed or constantly checking emails, text messages, or posts. Despite what you may have heard, you are not superhuman. Our brains can’t handle more than one activity at a time. Something will go wrong.

Feed your curiosity. Take some time without your devices to explore your neighborhood, go on an adventure, take a hike, or do something that engages both your mind and your body.

This goes without saying but listen. Truly listen. Don’t spend your time trying to come up with a response, just hear people out.

Listen so intently that you can tell someone everything that was said. You never know, that might be a skill that comes in handy one day.

Look the speaker in the eye. That shows you’re truly engaged. There’s nothing more annoying than speaking to someone who is clearly distracted. Again, your brain can only handle one activity at a time.

Don’t speak until you’re sure the other person is done talking. Their words have value. Show them the same respect you would want.

In the end, you’ll find that it’s much easier to get along with someone if you listen to them. Being present tells them you care, you value their opinions, and that you are someone who can be trusted. Whether it’s your boss, your kids, your spouse, or a stranger, they all deserve to be heard. Now, get your listening ears on and start a conversation.