I’m thinking about Julian Treasure’s 2011 speech called “5 Ways to Listen Better”. I remember that he begins his talk by insisting that we’re losing our listening!
We’re overwhelmed with noise and have lost the habit of paying close attention, since there’s so much information always available at our fingertips. Increasingly, there’s endless broadcasting going on everywhere, but little true understanding.
We can see the consequences all around us. Even more so in 2022 than in 2011. Is there still hope? Most definitely. Do we need to take action now? Without a doubt.
He offers some practical ideas for re-tuning our listening abilities, little by little. Here are the 5 ways we can learn to truly listen again:
First off, I love how actionable these are!
And he’s so right that we're sending out messages but we're not always truly connecting.
The first three of his suggested practices bring us back into our sense of hearing, re-gaining mindfulness and appreciation of it. The fourth allows us to step back and perceive it from the outside, becoming more conscious of our filters and experimenting with them.
His last recommendation is a process called RASA. Though he says this is a Sanskrit word for juice or essence, I just realized he may also be invoking the concept of “tabula rasa”, the clean slate. Hmmm, this may be something to bring up at cocktail parties. 😂
To use RASA, pause to receive someone’s message with true, undivided attention, and appreciate it in an audible way (“mmm”) so that the speaker knows we’re with them. Then summarize to reflect back what they’ve said and, when they’ve finished, ask questions to show curiosity and engagement.
In theory, when we correctly practise RASA, we stay in the present, our mind doesn’t wander and we resist the urge to formulate our next response or chime in before the person speaking has finished.
Instead, do messages go in one ear and out the other? Are people too busy defending their own points of view to stop and seek out diverse perspectives? Are they rushing on to the next thing?
Are executives maybe not bothering to get buy-in from their teams? And then wondering why everything is delayed or botched?
What is being missed?
On the other hand… if true listening were implemented, could you imagine being on the receiving end of such respectful attention? What might get accomplished if this kind of deep listening were a regular practice throughout your team, division, company?