“If we could only listen to each other on the stage like the animals in the forest do — as though our lives depended on it.” -Geraldine Page
British writer Julian Treasure believes we are losing our listening. In his brilliant 2011 TED Talk he shares his concern for our current connection crisis. Though we spend nearly sixty percent of our communication time listening, we retain only twenty-five percent of what we hear. And the little we do take in is peppered with impatience — a desire for sound bites over prose, texts over calls, and posts over a spirited debate.
So how did we get here?
Treasure believes there are two main reasons that have led to the decline of heightened listening.
First, we’ve replaced the need to listen with other methods of communication like writing as well as audio and visual recording.
Secondly, the world today is a noisy place. In our effort to curb our daily cacophony we tune much of the world out. Headphones have become the remedy to sidestepping the people around us.
Still, the problem persists as we become isolated in company, reinforcing a wall over which nobody can listen to one another, or perhaps worse, no longer care to.
Treasure argues the problem is not an insignificant one. “Conscious listening creates understanding.” Without conscious listening we talk at one other, hear what we want to hear, and lose sight of the fact our culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, and expectations shape the way we see the world.
Thankfully, Treasure offers several ways we can improve our daily listening…
Three minutes a day of silence — This is simply an exercise to recalibrate your mind to re-hear the quiet around you
The Mixer — when you find yourself in a noisy environment, ask yourself how many various channels of sound you can make out. For example, can you hear the coffee grinder? The faint dins of jazz? The sound of porcelain against oak? This exercise is a great way to train yourself to pay closer attention to the world around you.
Savoring — Try taking pleasure in mundane sounds. The dishwasher, air conditioner, hum of your car’s engine can instantly become a symphony. Julian Treasure calls this the “hidden choir.”
RASA is the Sanskrit word for “essence.” It’s also an acronym that can help promote a deeper kind of presence.
Conscious listening is a precondition to inhabiting a deeper and richer type of Being. When we listen, truly listen, we show reverence for another soul.