Listen with Your Brain

Have you ever wondered what makes some pay attention to certain brand messages while others pay more attention to people?

Listen with your brain

Or have you encountered technology that changes how you listen? New magnetic imaging opens windows into listening more with your brain.

Discover below, what promotes or reduces listening – then try a few correlated tools to harness your listening skills into advantages.

1. Men listen with one side of their brain and women listen with both:  According to researcher Dr. Michael Phillips, a neuroradiologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, brain scans showed that men listen to language which is located in the left brain, while women use both sides, including the right brain’s more creative capabilities. Phillips is careful to point out that the research does not conclude that women or men are better listeners – just that they differ in how they listen.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Vary communications – seek out people who differ from youso that novelty becomes part of what you hear. New research about novelty’s power in the brain shows how original ideas offer positive experiences to those who take advantage by hearing more.

2. Technology is changing how people listen: Sound bites shift topics frequently,  and  brains rewire to catch brief bits of significant information, rather than remain focused for long periods on any one detail.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Sketch diagrams to link abstract ideas at boring meetings onto something you already know or do. New ideas make more sense to you when you hook complex concepts onto familiar or concrete experiences. Links and bridges let you hear difficult or boring information in ways that make more sense.

3. New digital imaging devices prove that listening changes the brain when its done well. Imaging such as PET, fMRI, and magnetoencephalography (MEG) generate interactive images to show the anatomy of the brain. They also show brain operations involved in listening. Listening operates from three regions of the brain that support how we listen and how we learn to listen.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Apply one insight heard and brainpower for listening increases.  You also expand multiple intelligences that you may not have been aware impact listening.

4. Your brain identifies familiar features: By observing cortical activity when people hear words researchers are beginning to see how people categorize words they hear. The back half of the brain’s cortex is devoted to recognizing familiar patterns, such as a cat’s meow, a baby’s cry or a familiar business brand.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Ask, ask, ask! Question with two feet to draw out unique contributions, that become solutions for stubborn problems.

5. Listening takes focus: while mere hearing is automatic. Modern brain images show that when you really focus on listening, you engage areas in the prefrontal cortex.  This area of your brain organizes and prioritizes what you hear, and stokes actions that as Fuster (2003) points out, allows you to use what you hear to interact with the world. Focus helps you to create meaning by holding what you hear in your working memory, match it up with what you already know, and predict what to do with what you hear.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Listen for differences, such as gaps between genders, or differences between an ethical and non-ethical worker, or between different rhythms in background music at work. Let differences help you discover innovative directions for your day. Ensure that women’s brainpower is included at the helm where men’s too is valued – and both genders win.

6. Music or speech impacts your emotions, impact moods in ways that motivate people, and can add to focus for listening. Great music, such as baroque  stimulates the brain to listen more effectively. To ensure good attention, it’s important to offer multiple ways for people to recognize parts of what is communicated. When print dominates a culture – listening skills can begin to  fade. With new social media, emphasis however, has escalated.  New media and technologies such as ipods or even the web –  have increased people’s listening capabilities, and raised its importance.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Seek advice from others you admire, and act on advice received. In so doing you are also engaging the plasticity that reshapes your brain to help you listen more accurately.

7. What connects to emotions tends to stick. Other advantages are given to many listeners when digital audio is paired with text, or when interactivity is possible, so that listening experiences link to listener preferences. Listening depends on levels of commitment and also on developing expertise and talent to hear and apply with tone often seen in innovative facilitators.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Step back from heated situations until you can tame your amygdala enough to hear the situation through another person’s perspective.

8. Awesome rewards come from listening to certain kinds of music. Researchers found that listening to music offers the same kind of pleasurable experiences as food, drugs or sex. The enjoyable act of listening – releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to pleasurable rewards.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Laugh at yourself – yet run from cynicism, that brings cortisol – so that you focus more on spreading serotonin chemicals. Serotonin and other neurotransmitters for well being also aid listening skills.

9. Social media offers more integrated views on most topics, and that fact has altered what people come to crave in the kind of opposing views presented by radio stations such as NPR in the US or CBC in Canada.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Invite personal stories to respectfully create curiosity for multiple sides of issues. We often tend to hear only what we already believe, and so we miss dynamic neuro discoveries for improved listening.

10. Listening itself changes your brain’s hardwiring. Each time to listen to long lectures with interest, you strengthen your preferred approach to interact with new ideas through detailed lectures.

Correlated Brainpowered tool: Repeat one key nugget heard. Lack of listening creates a habit operated from the brain’s basal ganglia. Each time you listen well, you rewire brain cell connectors and reshape listening ability.  Ready to reshape listening abilities stored in your brain?

What brainpowered tool will you use to reboot listening skills where you work?

Further Reading: Check out Dr. Robyn McMaster’s strategies to Reboot your Brain for Active Listening at Brain Based Biz

5 Comments

  1. Gavin Heaton says:

    Love it! We need to rewire ourselves to listen properly and not suffer from basal ganglia. It’s like exercise for the brain. Now if only I could think about losing weight and getting fit ;)

  2. eweber says:

    Hey Gavin, It’s all about having fun on the links – and the rest follows :-) Today I received my golf membership for the season as an amazing gift – and by next week I plan to be listening to birds sail with my 2011 golf balls! Fitness fades into the fun! You?

  3. Gavin Heaton says:

    Yeah – golf and I have a love-hate relationship. Though 10 years ago I never imagined myself playing golf, these days it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon when I have the time!

  4. eweber says:

    I plan to try the rusty clubs out today – when the temp climbs to barely 50:-) With a few extra sweaters and a little luck I plan to gain a new prespective on the fun of fitness:-) Wish me luck and let’s plan a round if we cross cities:-) We golf with the brain in mind – and it’s a blast! You’d add a ton of fun to the mix:-) Have a great day Gavin:-)

  5. […] Transform meetings into interactive roundtables where you listen with your brain, and stoke opposites to ignite innovative […]

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