5 ways to listen better | Julian Treasure

5 ways to listen better | Julian Treasure

We are losing our listening. We spend roughly 60 percent
of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear. Now — not you, not this talk, but that is generally true. (Laughter) Let’s define listening
as making meaning from sound. It’s a mental process, and it’s a process of extraction. We use some pretty cool
techniques to do this. One of them is pattern recognition. (Crowd noises) So in a cocktail
party like this, if I say, “David, Sara, pay attention” —
some of you just sat up. We recognize patterns
to distinguish noise from signal, and especially our name. Differencing is another technique we use. If I left this pink noise on
for more than a couple of minutes, (Pink noise) you would literally
cease to hear it. We listen to differences;
we discount sounds that remain the same. And then there is a whole
range of filters. These filters take us from all sound down to what we pay attention to. Most people are entirely
unconscious of these filters. But they actually create
our reality in a way, because they tell us what
we’re paying attention to right now. I’ll give you one example of that. Intention is very important
in sound, in listening. When I married my wife, I promised her I would listen
to her every day as if for the first time. Now that’s something
I fall short of on a daily basis. (Laughter) But it’s a great intention
to have in a relationship. (Laughter) But that’s not all. Sound places us in space and in time. If you close your eyes
right now in this room, you’re aware of the size of the room from the reverberation and the bouncing
of the sound off the surfaces; you’re aware of how many
people are around you, because of the micro-noises
you’re receiving. And sound places us in time as well, because sound always has
time embedded in it. In fact, I would suggest
that our listening is the main way that we experience the flow of time from past to future. So, “Sonority is time
and meaning” — a great quote. I said at the beginning,
we’re losing our listening. Why did I say that? Well, there are a lot of reasons for this. First of all, we invented
ways of recording — first writing, then audio recording
and now video recording as well. The premium on accurate and careful
listening has simply disappeared. Secondly, the world is now so noisy, (Noise) with this cacophony
going on visually and auditorily, it’s just hard to listen; it’s tiring to listen. Many people take refuge in headphones, but they turn big,
public spaces like this, shared soundscapes, into millions of tiny,
little personal sound bubbles. In this scenario,
nobody’s listening to anybody. We’re becoming impatient. We don’t want oratory anymore;
we want sound bites. And the art of conversation is being
replaced — dangerously, I think — by personal broadcasting. I don’t know how much listening
there is in this conversation, which is sadly very common,
especially in the UK. We’re becoming desensitized. Our media have to scream at us
with these kinds of headlines in order to get our attention. And that means it’s harder
for us to pay attention to the quiet, the subtle, the understated. This is a serious problem
that we’re losing our listening. This is not trivial, because listening is our access
to understanding. Conscious listening
always creates understanding, and only without conscious listening can these things happen. A world where we don’t listen
to each other at all is a very scary place indeed. So I’d like to share with you
five simple exercises, tools you can take away with you, to improve your own conscious listening. Would you like that? Audience: Yes! Good. The first one is silence. Just three minutes a day of silence
is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate, so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get absolute silence, go for quiet, that’s absolutely fine. Second, I call this “the mixer.” (Noise) So even if you’re
in a noisy environment like this — and we all spend a lot of time
in places like this — listen in the coffee bar
to how many channels of sound can I hear? How many individual channels
in that mix am I listening to? You can do it in a beautiful place
as well, like in a lake. 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. Third, this exercise I call “savoring,”
and this is a beautiful exercise. It’s about enjoying mundane sounds. This, for example, is my tumble dryer. (Dryer) It’s a waltz — one, two, three;
one, two, three; one, two, three. I love it! Or just try this one on for size. (Coffee grinder) Wow! So, mundane sounds
can be really interesting — if you pay attention. I call that the “hidden choir” —
it’s around us all the time. The next exercise is probably
the most important of all of these, if you just take one thing away. This is listening positions — the idea that you can move
your listening position to what’s appropriate
to what you’re listening to. This is playing with those filters. Remember I gave you those filters? It’s starting to play with them as levers, to get conscious about them
and to move to different places. These are just some
of the listening positions, or scales of listening
positions, that you can use. There are many. Have fun with that. It’s very exciting. And finally, an acronym. You can use this in listening,
in communication. If you’re in any one of those roles — and I think that probably is everybody
who’s listening to this talk — the acronym is RASA, which is the Sanskrit word
for “juice” or “essence.” And RASA stands for “Receive,”
which means pay attention to the person; “Appreciate,” making little noises
like “hmm,” “oh,” “OK”; “Summarize” — the word “so”
is very important in communication; and “Ask,” ask questions afterwards. Now sound is my passion, it’s my life. I wrote a whole book about it.
So I live to listen. That’s too much to ask for most people. But I believe that every human being
needs to listen consciously in order to live fully — connected in space and in time
to the physical world around us, connected in understanding to each other, not to mention spiritually connected, because every spiritual path
I know of has listening and contemplation at its heart. That’s why we need to teach listening
in our schools as a skill. Why is it not taught? It’s crazy. And if we can teach listening
in our schools, we can take our listening
off that slippery slope to that dangerous, scary world
that I talked about, and move it to a place where everybody
is consciously listening all the time, or at least capable of doing it. Now, I don’t know how to do that, but this is TED, and I think the TED community
is capable of anything. So I invite you to connect with me,
connect with each other, take this mission out. And let’s get listening taught in schools, and transform the world in one generation to a conscious, listening world —
a world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace. Thank you for listening to me today. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Sonority of voice is equal to the time and meaning in our conversation. Definitely agree with that.

  2. Listening is so important because we simply need to understand others. The listening methods in this video is helpful.

  3. Listening in daily life can help promote the understanding between people, and more importantly, making people think more deeply and thoroughly.

  4. Listening is important both academically and in everyday life. For academics, listening carefully helps me to learn more efficiently and succeed in college. In everyday life, listening promotes understanding among people. I totally agree with this lecture!

  5. People in modern society are losing listening. We don't pay attention to others' talking, which hurts the communication with them and makes it become not meaningful, so we must need to improve this skill.

  6. Great talk, it is definitely important for us to improve the listening skills as a student, and more importantly, as a friend to others.

  7. We should be able to allow other to express their opinions and to efficiently extract useful information from other's speechs.

  8. It is important to be a skilled listener because we need to learn knowledge from the lecture and we need to know what others are telling us during chatting. It is important to practice distinguishing pausing, intonation, volume and transition words of the sounds. This helps us to judge which part of the information is important and helps us to figure out the main ideas.

  9. I really hate not paying attention. I just can’t do it. It is especially bad in fortnite. I can barely even follow dorections

  10. Consciously aware of my decreasing listening abilities. It's so important to listen well to show respect and care for others. Glad to see this. Hope we can have better communication.

  11. I’m not good at listening because my parents doesn’t talk to me in English at home, I didn’t have much friends that I could communicate in English and I didn’t want to waste my time watching tv or movies.

  12. I like the message. but I noticed (4:44) his audience was all old people. This should be something that is taught to young people IMHO. Like 7th grade roughly.

  13. Brilliant Speech Julian Treasure ..

    I will give a speech on this topic on my Graduation Day. Hoping for the best.

  14. Julian is a genius, very articulate, he pointed out the big hurdles in speaking effectively and listening attentively. ..well done

  15. believe in collaboration and sharing ideas

    listen better – process of extraction
    pattern recognition
    filters create our reality bc its what we pay attn to
    skill: conscious listening

    exercises to improve CL
    silence/quiet – 3 minutes a day
    mixture – ask how many sounds am I listening to where are they coming from
    savoring – listen to mundane sounds
    listening position – active/passive
    Summarize, so is very important in communication
    sanskrit term rasa, literally means "juice, essence or taste"

    goal: connection, understanding, and peace

  16. I greed, a world where none is listening to no one is a scary place to be in human to human relationships needs understanding the other persons view point and well wishing and it all starts with listening but before making people listen we need to learn how to talk.so that people will listen. I started making a prayer for this person from the moments i heard him for the first time what a way of speaking.

  17. An important listening element, which I didn't see in there, is providing full attention during listening. Don't look at your watch or calendar or phone. Even a glance tells the speaker they are not very important to you. The communication will cease!

  18. The true problem about us is the following:
    Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen 19,337,109 Views
    Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better 2,279,085 Views
    from Cedric Wehrum

  19. Regarding the 6m30s mark, I wish Julian's Sound Business book was made in audio format.. or audio material to practice the exercises given here (4m8s). On the 'ExtraSensory' episode of the Ted Radio Hour with Julian, it's said that the human listening bandwidth is 1.6.. enough to listen to a conversation, plus have an inner dialogue! (47m18s)

  20. I came here to learn something useful. Instead Einstein space time had to be involved instead some practical advises. Here is one for example – to listen more carefully you have to stop thinking of your self too much. If you are think something about yourself for example how you are smart, you will never shut up and listen. If you think you are smart about everything you want to explain everything then one thought can produce million thoughts, right? While someone talking you may thinking how good clothes they wear. That produce million of thoughts, that recycle it self. We do that all the time. When you realize stupidity and no value of that, you will slowly distance your self from your thoughts, because your thoughts cannot continue with you not paying attention to it.

  21. – We spend 60 % of our time listening and retain only 25% of what we hear.
    -Listening – Making meaning from sound. It is a mental process and it is a process of extraction.
    Tools that which help the process of listening to be effective :
    1. Pattern Recognition
    – We recognize patterns to distinguish noise from a signal & especially our name.
    2. Differencing
    – We listen to differences, we discount sound that remains the same.

    Range of filters : ( These filters take us from all sound, down to what we pay attention to )
    – Culture
    – Language
    – Values
    – Believes
    – Attitudes
    – Expectations
    – Intentions
    —- Most People Are Entirely Unconscious Of These Filters —-
    —- However they create our reality for they tell us what do we pay attention to right now —-

    — The world is so noisy that makes it hard to listen —

    — We are becoming impatient —

    —- It is harder to pay attention to the quite, the suttle the understated —-
    —- Listening is our access to understanding —-
    —- Conscious listening aways create understanding —-

    5 Tools you can use to become a better listener :

    1. Practice being silent.

    2. Practice being aware of how many sounds you can hear at a moment.

    3. Enjoy mundane sounds.

    4. Move your listening position to what is appropriate to what you are listening to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Few examples of the many listening positions :
    – Active / Passive
    – Reductive / Expansive
    – Critical / Empathetic

    5. RASA
    R – Receptive ( Pay attention to the person you are speaking )
    A – Appreciate ( Show appreciation )
    S – Summarise ( What was being said ) i.e. : So as I understand the whole presentation is about listening.
    A – Ask Questions i.e. Am I being correct about it? i.e. Did you understand what I am trying to convey here ?

    Is there anything else you want to ask me?

    !!! We need to listen consciously in order to live fully !!!

    ———————————————————–Thank you for reading my comment ————————————————————–

  22. As the days go by, a variety of people are voicing their opinions in various places. Television, newspapers, the Internet and social networking sites are literally overpopulated. Also, many lecturers speak in different ways each year. Ten ways to express one's opinions more actively. But who's listening to all these comments? If no one listens and keeps talking, it's just noise. Have you ever learned how to listen in your life? I don't have one. I guess I didn't listen at all that I couldn't remember even if there was one. Maybe that's why today's generation can't keep their ears open. Some people saw how badly he needed someone to listen to his story, so he made a boyfriend. We need to be able to listen, understand and empathize more. Because it is obvious that anyone who only talks about himself will become lonely.

  23. People overall prefer to speak than to listen, and the worse part is that people listening as granted. Like, You must listen to them while they don't have to listen to you.

  24. Great speech, so true.
    Some thoughts …. I guess, the comments are so often misunderstood because of lacking the sound AND the facial expression. Both is so important to understand.

  25. Eating a peanut butter and onion sandwich to calm the mind whilst watching this.

  26. I learned to listen to people who I don't even like, in some cases I found out as to why I didn't like them; to other people, situations I wondered why I didn't like them..that's a power of listening without bias.

  27. Most of you who have problems listening I would say its mostly because your thoughts are too noisy. Practice medication.

  28. 5 Exercises to improve listening;

    1. Silence. Three minutes a day of silence. Reset and recallibrate and allow yourself to hear the silence again.

    2. The Mixer. In noisy environments, listen and try to figure out how many channels you can hear. How many individual channels you are listening to.

    3. Savoring. Learn to enjoy mundane sounds (tumble dryer, coffee machine). The "hidden choir".

    4. Listening positions. You can move your listening position to what's appropriate to what you're listening to.

    5. RASA.

    Receive- pay attention to the person

    Appreciate- Make little noises like "hmm" "OK"

    Summarize- Use the word "so"

    Ask- Ask questions afterwards

  29. These exercises will have 0 effect on your ability to listen. Listening requires you to have no position or stance of the conversation, which means being completely accepting and open to what the other has to say. However, most are too stuck in their own narratives that that's all they can listen to.

  30. I came just because I want to check that is true how the video of listening has less views than video of speaking

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