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Are you listening?!

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The Power of Words – Part I

 I am reading “The Tiger’s Wife” by Téa Obreht.  This is not a book review.

I recently came to the realization that I am a lover of the written word over the spoken word.   I believe the psycho-educational world would suggest that my personal learning style is visual versus auditory.

How did I come to this conclusion a full 25 years after graduating from my post-secondary institution of higher learning?

I purchased an audio version of  The Tiger’s Wife for my recent 4-hour hockey road trip to Rochester New York with my 14-year old son, given the likelihood of a fairly long break in stimulating conversation.  Though I have occasionally been pleasantly taken aback by car chats with my kids during road trips, I thought it best to be prepared in case the usual teenager behaviour presented itself.  Conveniently downloaded to my iPod, I had quick access to alternative dialogue (albeit one-way) with a quick touch of a button.  Eye contact with a US Customs and Border Protection official without surliness is key to accomplish smooth entry into a foreign country with a bottle or two of undeclared adult beverage, so I did ask him to kindly remain conscious until we’d crossed the border.  My teenager reluctantly agreed and just as predicted, following unhindered entry to US with aforementioned beverages AND a token ‘good luck at the tournament’ added for his sake, Offspring is comatose soon thereafter.  So I switch to my iPod book and I’m ready to listen.

Turns out I wasn’t so ready to listen.

When I have a book in front of me, I read it.  I pay attention to it.  I am into it.  If I am distracted or otherwise called to be engaged (like falling asleep, for example), I put the book down and I no longer pay attention to it.   I turned on this audio book however, and I soon myself NOT paying attention to it.   I was distracted by the scenery, the other cars, my hunger, my coffee, my bladder, my to-do list, a passing inspiration … my bladder again.  I stopped listening to the book well before our I-90 turnoff.  I’ve listened to audio books before without this apparent lack of focus (my son called it day-dreaming but – puah -what does HE know?).  I wonder if perhaps learning styles change as you age and mature.   

I am finding now, it’s almost as if I have to see the word, rather than hear it, to fully understand, appreciate, and retain its message.  The book publishing industry is counting on the likes of me.  In fact, they love me because I now own  both an audio version and e-book version of The Tiger’s Wife.  Yet I couldn’t help thinking recently that learning styles and their consequences in communication might also have vast implications for therapists.

 [What is she talking about?]

Do you not think a marriage counsellor could increase their effectiveness and Saved Marriage Percentage (there’s no such thing in therapy, that’s just the goalie mom in me coming out) by ten-fold if they were to quickly determine which learning style and which media best served a couple’s communication style?  Think of how many relationships fall apart because of poor communication and misunderstanding.  A marriage saved resorting to communication-by-email, is still a marriage saved.  I have been told (though I protest) that my verbal communication with my dear husband is occasionally tinged with irrational emotion and impatience.  However, my texts, emails and Post-Its are calm and coherent, and they state my position and my needs without the exasperated non-verbals that men don’t understand anyway.  I have outstanding communication with my husband as long as we are texting (that’s Texting).  I think I’m on to something.  Imagine if counsellors take this a step further and introduce Parenting-by-Podcast.  Family counseling made possible through iTunes gift cards (written transcript available for the visual learner like me, of course).  

This is how my mind works sometimes – and then I wonder why it wanders during an audio book…

Do audio books make you day dream?

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