We are consumed by our mobiles, iPads, social media and all things digital. That in itself is not really news. What I have just realised is how much we don’t actually listen to what others are saying because we are so engrossed in our own digital worlds.

Jeannie Shapiro

How has this suddenly dawned on me? It was because of a story my mother was telling a friend of mine. She was recanting how if it wasn’t for my aunt intervening she may never have given my father a second chance at the tender age of 16. I thought I knew most things about my parents and I am sure my mother has told that story before but I wasn’t paying attention. With so much on my mind and calls and emails constantly pinging on my devices, I didn’t listen. And now that my mother is elderly and frail, I realise just how important it is to take in all this information.

This isn’t really about just taking in my gorgeous mom’s recollections. It is a sudden lightning bolt that my attention span has been diminishing as time goes by.  How many of you have gone to a lecture or even a meeting and kept an eye on your mobile? How many of you have had lunch with a good friend telling you their problems and your phone was face up on the table? Perhaps you have answered a business call while sitting at your desk with one eye still on your emails or reading Facebook? Is your iPad sitting on your sofa next to you while you watch tv?

There are very few view people I know who couldn’t say ‘yes’ to at least one of those questions. I do know some people who shun mobiles and emails almost completely and happily but they are few and far between. And perhaps to generalise, the younger you are the less you are conditioned to listen well.

Think of how much you are missing out. In an age of information overload, try simply taking in the things your family and friends are telling you. That goes for work colleagues and customers too. Listen well, listen intently and you may just be surprised to hear what you’ve been missing. I’m learning to walk away from my mobile and computers for a number of hours a day. Maybe baby steps but it feels good to realise I haven’t actually missed anything really important in that time. It also means I am starting to slowly absorb the small stuff I have grown to ignore