Netflix Learning: active listening skills

Netflix not only provides entertainment but also contains super educational documentaries on all kinds of topics. But don't underestimate the sitcoms. These sometimes contain 'golden nuggets' for those who pay attention ;)

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The American Sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" focuses on the lives of seven characters living in Pasadena. 

Jim Parsons won several Emmys and a Golden Globe for his role of Sheldon Cooper. Mayin Bialik plays his girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler in the series. Both are brilliant scientists but not endowed with a surplus of emotional intelligence. 

In the video, you can see a scene from the series in which Sheldon is presenting a choice that's too difficult even for him to make. So he tries to get Amy's help: should he buy an Xbox or a Playstation? Amy, initially annoyed and uninterested in this dilemma, then decides to actively listen to Sheldon. 

Amy listens so actively and explicitly that the scene is actually not only funny, but also instructive for people who have difficulty with actively listening and may have even come to believe that they will never learn this. 

In any case, Amy applies the following listening techniques:

  1. She decides to give Sheldon her undivided attention: 'Fine Sheldon, you have my undivided attention'
  2. She reinforces with raised voice and indignation that she understands the seriousness of the situation: 'No way!!!'
  3. She spreads her arms with her palms up and emphasize with voice raising and a suggestive question that she understands the consequence of what Sheldon is saying: 'you wouldn't want your gaming system to overheat?'
  4. She repeats the last word from one of Sheldon's sentences, again with indignation: 'included??'
  5. She says in reference to DDR3 what Sheldon is already thinking: 'are they nuts??'
  6. When Sheldon says, 'they throw in ...' Amy makes a stopping gesture with her left hand and actively asks: 'wow, wow, wow, who's they?' only to state with even more voice volume: 'you're kidding?!!!' Again with her arms spread and palms up.
  7. Amy finally concludes that 'this is a nightmare, how will you ever make a decision?' demonstrating that she not only heard what Sheldon said, but also understands why this puzzle is too difficult to solve, even for him. 

Were you able to spot any other listening techniques Amy was using? Let me know in a comment below this post. 

And for those of you who will soon find yourself in a socially awkward moment at a dinner party: feel free to use the functional tactic that Amy also uses: 'please pass me the butter!'

Dirk Van Uffelen

Guest Editor, Generation Magnets

Studied Organisational Psychology & Sports Psychology and focused the last 20+ years on development and guidance of Cororate Management Traineeships and Young Professional Programs. Currently writing 'The Quantum Millennial Guide, the Bionic Way from Agile to Antifragile'. Passionate about traveling, learning languages, martial arts, CrossFit and spending time with his family.

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