A Good Listener
By Paul Marcus Fuog
As a child I would often find my mum doodling while talking on the phone. Notepads, scraps of paper, napkins and other surfaces were covered in scribbles. They were elaborate, intricate and beautiful, but completely nonsensical. I’ve always assumed that her drawings were an act of boredom and a sign she had lost interest in the conversation–a behaviour that put her listening skills into question.
Fast forward some 30 years and I find myself researching doodling for a project and I’m starting to reconsider my assumptions. Columnist Sue Shellenbarger, in an article written for the Wall Street, writes that ‘recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused.’
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Perhaps my mum’s seemingly absent-minded scribbles were a sign of engagement or at least an attempt to remain engaged. According to a 2009 study in applied cognitive psychology, people who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later. The study suggests that doodling not only helps you remain focused but it also helps you retain information and recall it later. So, it appears my mum was not a terrible listener. She was in fact a good listener demonstrated by the shitstorm of doodles all over the side table where our phone sat.
So when you’re in your next meeting or conversation and you feel yourself drifting off whip out your tool and doodle.