Quieten the voice inside

What distracts you from listening fully to another person? For many people, it’s the ‘voice inside’ – their own internal commentator.

This voice may be distracting for all kinds of reasons – it might be offering useful-sounding suggestions, putting forward opinions, criticising, or even talking about something completely different, such as “what’s for supper?” But whatever it’s saying, it’s competing for your attention with the person you’re supposed to be listening to.

Here are some approaches that different people have found useful in this situation:

  • Ignore the voice inside! Consciously put your full attention on the other person
  • Physically take hold of your tongue and hold it still! (Try this when listening to talk radio)
  • Notice the voice inside and say “ssssshhhhh” to it
  • Place your tongue behind your teeth so it’s almost, but not quite, touching them
  • Imagine a ball rolling round a roulette wheel, quickly at first, and then gradually coming to a standstill
  • Use your peripheral vision – see the person you are listening to towards the edge of your visual field, and ignore what is central to your vision.

Why not try one or more of these and see which have the greatest impact for you?

(For more listening tips, check out Judy Rees’s book Clean Language)

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