As I have shared before, my husband wears hearing aids. But these are not the old-fashioned kind… his hearing aids are pretty fancy and can do all sorts of neat things. One feature that I do NOT like is the Bluetooth option. Scott can use his hearing aids to wirelessly listen to his phone. That’s right - he can listen to anything (including his music) from his phone through his hearing aids without anyone around him knowing. I became aware of this neat trick one day in church. Scott seemed to be lost in the sermon, but it was the “children’s” sermon. I leaned over to quietly ask if he was ok, and I could faintly hear talking in his ears. I quickly discovered that he was listening to Michael Berry’s radio show podcast! After some really dirty looks, he turned off his phone. But Scott’s hearing aids continue to cause problems. He can also set the television sound to come through his hearing aids. So I have now learned that when he walks in from work or he’s sitting on the couch or he is tinkering in the garage, I must always ask if he is actually listening to me or his phone BEFORE I begin a conversation or he will ask, “Wait, what?” But Scott is not the only one who doesn’t always listen. When my kids were little, I always wanted to hear about their day, and many times that long and detailed story started with, “I went through the school doors and … “ They would share every (and I mean EVERY) detail of the day. Although I loved hearing their story, some days I just didn’t have the needed focus to really listen, but as all moms do, I developed the skill of being able to appropriately share an “oh” or “ah” or “no” at the right time. Most times I correctly responded based on the kid’s inflection, but every now and then, I missed. And I got caught every time! “Mom, are you listening?” Nope. I really wasn’t listening, but would then try to focus on the conversation at that point. How many times are we not really listening? How many times have we missed out on something or caused unneeded confusion or perhaps even created a huge problem because we didn’t listen? James E. Ryan, Dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, recently published a book called, Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. I highly recommend the book and will probably write other blogs about the things I am learning while reading it. But in a nutshell, the book discusses the “art of asking - and answering - good questions.” Ryan shares that the root of all understanding is “Wait, what?” and “is an effective way of asking for clarification, and clarification is the first step toward truly understanding something—whether it is an idea, an opinion, a belief, or a business proposal.” Look, there are times that we all don’t listen when we should, and although the best communication advice is to always try to focus and listen, it’s just not going to always happen. So instead, just take responsibility for your lack of listening, and ask, “Wait, what?” if you miss something. Think of all the time and effort (and money) saved if people asked for clarification BEFORE an action is taken. etc Strategies believes that successful communication involves successful understanding, and asking for clarification (even if you were listening closely) can help create a more productive communication experience. And here is another tip -- if you have a difficult time focusing and listening, take notes during the discussion or meeting. The physical act of taking notes can help you stay involved in the discussion and listen more carefully. Try to find other strategies to keep you focused on the communication, but if you discover that you are not listening, just ask, “Wait, what?” Scott Hardegree certainly uses that question -- a lot!!