A recent study reveals that we remember on average about 25-50% of what we hear.
If you’re a student and this is how you get all your information, you’re probably going to fail all your classes.
The school analogy is good because there is an incentive to listen, especially if the education is voluntary and costs you money. In order to succeed, you have to increase the memory ratio to at least 80-90%. You do this by other methods of reinforcement like note taking, reading, and thinking through the material in ways you can relate to.
If you want to succeed in a project, don’t rely on your own predictions and nothing else. Nothing in this world turns out exactly as you plan. There will be unexpected delays. People will inject their emotions and opinions into their roles in a project. If you want to succeed, don’t be a know-it-all.
This reminds me of something a teacher once told me. If you dissect the word “assume”, you make an ass of you and me.
This is why shows like Three’s Company, the Andy Griffith show, and many other situation comedies are so funny. The people on the show assume things without all the information they need to make a good decision and then hilarity results.
It’s not so funny when it happens in the real world, though.
If you want to increase your memory of what people say, you have to be an active listener.
Here are a few things you can do to make that happen.
First, look them in the eye. I’m not talking about a staring contest here. Hear not only the words the person is saying; observe the nonverbal cues that accompany the message. Is it urgent or important? Is there lots of enthusiasm or just enough to get by?
Second, let them know you’re listening by being active yourself. Nod occasionally. This doesn’t mean you agree with what is being said; it merely means you hear it. It will save you time and frustration later and keep you from appearing bored.
Third, reflect back to the speaker. Ask questions. Tell them, “This is what I’m hearing, is that what you meant?” If you need more clarification, now is the time to get it.
Be an active listener. People will see that you care and that can make all the difference.