5 Ways To Be A Better Listener

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Everybody’s talkin’ at me
Can’t hear a word they’re sayin’
Only the echos of my mind”

Remember that Fred Neil song?

Popularized by others – chiefly Harry Nilsson in Midnight Cowboy –  and covered by over 100 other artists, that lonesome feeling it evokes is perfect for today.

Not being heard, especially when surrounded by others, is as lonesome as it gets.

It’s sad when we feel this way. And, maybe it’s sadder still when we are the one’s not listening.

So, listen up folks – here’s the low down on listening.

  1. We’re all pretty bad at it. So first-off I’m inviting you to invest a delightful 7:46 minutes watching Julian Treasure’s TED Talk “5 Ways To Listen Better”. For those who don’t like to watch videos, I’ve printed out the main take-aways after the video, below.
  1. Ever noticed how you listen to yourself? I find we’re masters at ignoring, distorting, minimizing, ridiculing and avoiding ourselves. What’s with that? Tune-in on May 13th to re-tune your inner cacophony.
  1. Guess what? All those “skills” we use on ourselves – all that ignoring, distorting, minimizing, ridiculing and avoiding – this is how we treat others too. Not to mention the astonishing filters we employ to be sure not to let the words’ of others resonate within our hearts. May 20 we’ll attend to our attention.
  1. Once Upon A Time . . “  And finally, on May 27th, I invite you to pull up a rocker, snuggle up with a Blankie and allow yourself to be lulled by the magic of “Once Upon A Time.” There’s so much we can learn from listening like children; from listening as children. And, it’s great fun!

NOTE FOR THE DEAF

“Listening” in this series of articles is not just about sound. Julian’s TED talk is – but really for me this is about attention. Where and how we pay attention. I’d love to hear from any readers whose attention is exclusively brokered visually rather than both auditorily and visually. But please know I am thinking of you as I compose these pieces.

Here’s Julian’s TED talk.

Or, if you prefer, here are his ~

Five Simple Exercises to Improve Your Own Conscious Listening.

SILENCE

Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate your attention so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get absolute silence, go for quiet, that’s absolutely fine.

THE MIXER

Even when you are in a noisy environment, like a hectic coffee shop for example, let yourself notice how many individual channels you can identify. Maybe an espresso machine; cups rattling; a dishwasher; distant conversation; close-up conversation; an ambulance siren. Or, take nature. How many distinct noises do you hear? How many birds am I hearing? Where are they? Where are those ripples? It’s a great exercise for improving the quality of your listening.

SAVORING

This is a beautiful exercise. It’s about enjoying mundane sounds. Focus on one familiar sound. Julian notices his tumble dryer and observes ~ “It’s a waltz. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. I love it !” Mundane sounds can be really interesting if you pay attention. I call that the hidden choir. It’s around us all the time.

LISTENING POSITIONS

Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 3.14.52 PMThis is the idea that you can move your listening position to what’s appropriate to what you’re listening to.

Try these for a start 

Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 2.54.24 PMIt’s playing with those filters. It’s starting to play with them as levers, to get conscious about them and to move to different places.

Here are some typical filters

AN ACRONYM

RASA, which is the Sanskrit word for juice or essence.

And RASA stands for

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Receive, which means pay attention to the person;

Appreciate, making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”;

Summarize, the word “so” is very important in communication;

Ask, ask questions afterward.

FIRST TIME HERE?

This is the latest article in a year-long series on the “12-most-important-relationship-skills-no-one-ever-taught-me-in-school-but-I-sure-wish-they-had.

Click the box for the full list.  Top 12 Relationship Skills

If you are interested in reading this blog in sequence, below are links to the series to date, beginning with the first posting at the top.

OVERVIEW

SKILLS FOR UNDERSTANDING

SKILL ONE ~ Recognize (and get to know) the many “yous.”

SKILL TWO ~ Learn how to be pro-active: choose how y’all show up.

 SKILL THREE ~ Accept (and get curious about) other peoples’ complexity

SKILLS FOR CONNECTING

SKILL FOUR ~ Master the Art of Conversation

33 thoughts on “5 Ways To Be A Better Listener

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