Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Better Listener

Sarah Green, Harvard Business Review, Feb 06, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This explains in part why lectures are so ineffective. "In a study of thousands of students and hundreds of businesspeople, they found that most retained only half of what they heard — and this immediately after they’d heard it. Six months later, most people only retained 25%." Why is this? They're bored! "The human mouth plods along at 125 words per minute, while a neuron can fire about 200 times a second." I read five times faster than that, which means that when I'm listening I have lots of time to think about other things. I stay engaged by giving myself another task to do, like taking notes - if the person is slow enough, I actually create whole sentences and paragraphs as they speak. Yes, it takes time to develop this skill; I learned in university, and my philosophy notes are often mini-essays of the lecture. But like I say, I have lots of time to think during a lecture, and this is more productive than worrying whether I left the stove on. 

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