Listen to Me

I've been told that I have a tendency to interrupt, which has led me to try to improve my listening skills.  So I went looking for some guidance... Julian Treasure is a sound consultant.  He teaches companies how to best utilize, filter and channel sound to enhance customer experiences.  In his 2011 TED Talk, "Five Ways to Listen Better," he raises the red flag that we are losing our listening.  We generally only pay attention to about 60% of what we're listening to, and we retain far less- about 20%- of what we hear.  Conversation is being replaced with public broadcasting on social media, and too many people are insulating themselves from sound via headphones and other forms of isolation.  Treasure says we're missing the subtleties of life when we don't listen to what's going on around us.  This "conscious listening" is what helps us understand the world.

So how can we improve our conscious listening?  Here are some of Treasure's suggestions:

  • Observe silence: 3 minutes a day of silence can help you focus on sounds around you. If total silence is unachievable, try to find a quiet place to be for that time.
  • Unmix the sound: if you are in a noisy place, practice separating and identifying the many different sounds you're hearing. This increases the quality of your listening.
  • Savor everyday sounds: listen closely and appreciate even the mundane sounds around you- washing machine, water running, cars driving by- Treasure calls this "the hidden choir" of sound.
  • Change your listening position: move from passive to active (or the other direction), or from critical to empathetic in how you listen to another person. See how this changes your perspective.


Finally, Treasure suggests that you listen for the "rasa" (Hindu for "the agreeable part of something") by:

Receiving: take in the message and really hear it

Appreciating: nod, respond, or otherwise acknowledge that you are listening

Summarizing: repeat back the important parts of the message so others know you are listening

Asking: ask questions about what you've heard


LISTEN CONSCIOUSLY, LIVE FULLY! Wish me luck as I endeavor to master this skill.