Listening better

We are losing our listening. We spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it, we retain just 25% of what we hear now not you’re not this talk, but that is generally true. 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 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 different scenes another technique we use if I left this pink noise on for more than a couple of minutes you would literally cease to hear. 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 give you one example of that intention is very important in sound in listening. When I married my wife. I promised her that 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. But it’s a great intention to have in a relationship. 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 of the surfaces, and you’re aware of how many people are around you because of the micro noises you’re receiving. And some places 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. With this company going on visually auditorily, It’s just hard to listen it’s tiring. Too 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 kind 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 consciousness thing 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. 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. 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 a lake, referred to my hearing, where are they, where are those  ripples. It’s a great exercise for improving the quality of your listening. Third, this exercise I called savoring, and this is a beautiful exercise it’s about enjoying mundane sounds this, for example, is my tumble dry. It’s a waltz. 1234123123, I love it. Or just try this one emphasize.

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 at the beginning and starting to play with them as leavers 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, oh, okay, summarize the word so it’s very important than communication and ask us 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 two conscious listening world, a world of connection. A world of understanding and a world of peace. Thank you for listening to me today.