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Look around you, you will almost certainly notice that there are so many things calling for your attention. So many sounds from different sources begging for your attention. You need not even listen hard for you to pick up a sound from a source away from you. It could be your Television set, your mobile device, your neighbour’s apartment or even from down the street.

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These sounds often distract you and make it impossible for you to focus on yourself and your thoughts. And when you are not able to focus on yourself or your thoughts, you are certainly not going to be able to perform optimally. You find out that you spend time processing information that does not help you achieve the goals you have set out for yourself.

This is why you need to learn and begin to practice the act of selective listening.

What Is The Act Of Selective Listening

The act of selective listening simply refers to you intentionally choosing what information or sound to pay attention to at any given time and what information or sound to not pay attention to. If you are going to be as productive as you want, you must realize that selective listening is one art you have to master. You must choose what to pay attention to and what not to. Needless to say, whatever you choose to pay attention to must be something that will help you in achieving the goals you have set out for yourself.

How To Develop The Act Of Selective Listening

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply the ability to be fully aware of your thoughts and the things going on in your environment. This will help you be aware of the things you are thinking about at any given time and the things you are paying attention to.

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When you can track your thoughts, it becomes easier to be able to track the source of the information you are processing.

Decide On What Is Important And Focus On It

Not every information or sound hovering in your environment at any given time is important to you. Deciding on what information is important to you and focusing on them is one way to help you practice selective listening. As I work on this, I can hear the voice of a bricklayer telling tales to a colleague of his escapades with his wife last night. While such information he is sharing may be exciting to listen to, it is not important to me, so I have decided not to focus on it, no matter how hard they laugh at some of the stories.

Practice Meditation

Meditation is simply the act of consciously giving your attention to one thing for some time. Meditation is commonly taught and practised in religious circles but it is an art that anyone could apply to help him or she improve himself or herself in selective listening.

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When you meditate, you simply shut off all other sounds and concentrate on only the subject you have chosen to concentrate on. When you practice meditation often, you teach your brain how to concentrate on the things you choose.

Reduce Your Level Of Noise Exposure

Excessive noise exposure is unhealthy and can affect your concentration ability. If you are going to be good at selective listening, you must work on cutting down the level of noise you expose yourself to at any given time. If you cannot control the noises in your environment due to the sources being external to you, you can find ways to prevent or reduce their access to you. This may be in the form of fortifying your apartment with ‘soundproof’ fittings or you wearing noise-prevention headphones

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This article was first published on 20th May 2022


Ifegwu-Mbonu Victor is a Personal Growth and Leadership Trainer who provides training and coaching to individuals and organizations.

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