Tuned In

When did we stop tuning in?  

Reveling in the warm and sunny weather today, I went for a walk outdoors instead of on my home elliptical.  I intentionally left home the iPod, instead wanting to hear some of the signs of Spring.  I eavesdropped into conversations (though only for seconds as I walked by), heard children squealing with delight as they rode their bicycles before the school bus arrived, noticed birds seemingly chatting, was greeted by neighbors who I rarely see all winter long…and was struck by a few moments of silence.  The walkers rushing by with their ears plugged may have been enjoying their favorite tunes, but they were definitely tuning out. 

Not only do we live in a world overstuffed with information, but we’ve grown used to noise clutter and have grown unaccustomed to the sweet sound of silence.  We’ve stopped really hearing though we think we’re listening all the time.

Managers engaging in a courageous conversation with a team member talk at the other person rather than allow a moment of silence, time for the other person to think and respond.  Presenters too-often miss the dramatic impact of a pause, worried instead that their silence will be misinterpreted as a mistake or nerves.  They even fill those wonderful seconds without content with mindless fillers (um, uh…).    Teenagers do their homework while listening to music rather than allowing their brain the total concentration that silence might afford.  We’re told that Gen Y may actually focus better with noise in the background, because the noise actually calms rather than interrupts.   How is that possible if we’re also now told that multi-tasking isn’t as effective as studies had indicated in the past, and that, in fact, once you interrupt what you’re doing to begin another task, you can lose up to 15 minutes trying to get back to your initial task.  Or that the reaction time of drivers who talk on their cell phones is up to 60 seconds slower than the driver just driving.  

Imagine what we might achieve if instead of tuning out, we all tuned in consciously, with focus and commitment.   What more would we hear?  What else would we notice?  Who else might we meet?

2 Responses to “Tuned In”

  1. Mike Sockol says:

    Beryl, while I agree with you, it might also be instructive to consider Paul Simon’s view of silence–

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence

    “Fools”, said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words, like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed
    In the wells of silence

    • Beryl Loeb says:

      Great! I love that song. You are absolutely correct that we don’t want to be silenced…but an occasional pause is a good thing! Thanks so much for your comment!

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