I recently heard a TED talk by Julian Treasure in which he pointed out the importance of conscious listening. He said filters – things like culture, values, expectations, attitudes, and beliefs – impact how we listen. Even though most people are unconscious of their filters, these filters create our reality by determining what we pay attention to.
Our fast-paced and noisy culture is inhibiting our ability to do the kind of conscious listening that creates understanding across differences. Treasure recommends that we practice these five skills, and encourage our staff to practice them, in order to enhance our listening skills.
- Embrace silence – spend 3 minutes each day in quietness.
- Focus on channels – listen to all the sources of sound around you and try to separate as many distinct sounds as possible.
- Savor sounds – focus on everyday sounds and learn to appreciate them.
- Examine your listening positions – identify your filters and learn to be intentional. Are you being active or passive? Critical or empathetic? What is impacting your perception of what you’re hearing?
- Practice RACA – Receive information consciously, Appreciate the viewpoint of the speaker, Summarize what you heard, and Ask followup questions.
Treasure says that we’re losing our ability to listen. Do you agree? If so how can we reverse that trend?
Dee Anne Bonebright