Please see below selected recent listening-related change.
- Some organisations use a technique known as a “listening circle” in which participants are encouraged to talk openly and honestly about the issues they face (such as problems with colleagues). In such a circle, only one person can talk at a time and there is no interruption. A study cited in the Harvard Business Review found that employees who had taken part in a listening circle subsequently suffered less social anxiety and had fewer worries about work-related matters than those who did not.
- We spend much of our time hearing rather than listening: hearing is a physiological process, while listening is a conscious and intentional act that involves making sense of the information received. It requires attention and effort, and a focus on someone else’s experience rather than our own, something that we tend to find hard. Listening is hard because we believe, rightly or wrongly, that much of our economic value depends on either being able to add value, or on being right. As a result, rather than listening to someone, we spend our finishing their sentences in our head and formulating our response to what we think they are going to say.
- Research recommended that, rather than simply counterarguing with a person one disagrees with, one conversation partner responds by giving the other partner undivided attention. The research suggested that if high-quality listening is deliberately substituted for a rush to defend your own perspective and strike back, it could lead to less polarising results. High-quality listening demands: attention, e.g. maintaining eye contact and avoiding distractions like phones; comprehension, e.g. by paraphrasing the speaker’s message to ensure understanding and positive intention, or adopting a non-judgemental attitude toward the speaker.
- Active listening is not only hearing what someone is saying, but also being in tune with their thoughts and feelings. Mastering this skill can also help interviews. "It turns a conversation into an active, non-competitive, two-way interaction," workplace dynamics expert Amy Gallo wrote in Harvard Business Review. Start by reflecting on your goal for the conversation, considering what you want and what the other person needs. Next, remind yourself to formulate responses after the person is done speaking. Rehearsing an answer can be "counterproductive" because it hinders your ability to process what's being said.
- History is filled with people who grew famous for being very good at speaking. However, there is no comparably glorious roster of people who have been acclaimed for doing something equally or even arguably more valuable: listening properly. Our collective idea of participating in conversation has from the first been focused on what people manage to say, almost never on what they manage to hear.
- Kate Murphy, in her book You’re Not Listening (2020), framed modern life as particularly antagonistic to good listening, saying that we are encouraged to listen to our hearts, listen to our inner voices, and listen to our guts, but rarely are we encouraged to listen carefully and with intent to other people.
- For The School of Life, however difficult our past might have been, we have each banked enough experience of adulthood to put our complex character together. The challenge is regularly to check in and ensure that the adult has as much of our airtime as possible. It’s entirely within our remits to shape the running order of who speaks to us internally, and when. The adult is already inside us, now we need to ensure we listen to the wisdom they, and therefore we, already well know about how to lead the rest of our lives.
- Gong Research Labs analysef 25,537 sales calls and with the goal of answering the question, “what talking-listening ration makes for a great sales call?” What they found is that “highest converting talk-to-listen ratio on sales calls is approximately 43:57.” Inversely, the least successful sales pitches were ones where the salesman talked for more than 60 percent of the time. This means that you’re most likely to persuade someone or get them to come around to your point of view if you listen more than you speak.
- Further reading:
- Listening well to another person may mean taking them very seriously while not necessarily sticking only to the surface of their words. ‘I hate you’ may mean ‘I love you’; ‘I don’t care’ may mean ‘I’m very scared.’ Something important may be being said to us, but its full meaning may be to the side of the words that have actually been uttered. We might, along with listening, need to do a bit of "translating" (many foreign languages are riddled with what translators call ‘false friends’ – words which strongly suggest they mean one thing when they in fact mean another. One of the key steps to successfully learning a foreign language is to get used to discounting the ‘obvious’ implications of certain words and to force ourselves to work harder at determining their true meaning).
- In, Why We Need to Feel Heard, The School of Life explained that one of our deepest longings - deeper than we even perhaps recognise day to to day - is that other people should acknowledge certain of our feelings. We want that, at key moments, our sufferings should be understood, our anxieties noticed and our sadness lent legitimacy. We don’t want others necessarily to agree with all our feelings, but what we crave is that they at least validate them.
- For Maria Popova, listening is what writer Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître explore in the simply titled Listen - a serenade to the heart-expanding, life-enriching, world-ennobling art of attentiveness as a wellspring of self-understanding, of empathy for others, of reverence for the loveliness of life, evocative of philosopher Simone Weil’s assertion that “attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.”
- As part of a three-year partnership with mental health charity Samaritans, UK mobile phone operator Three launched a campaign geared to helping everyone become a better listener. The campaign - developed by Wonderhood Studios for TV, social and radio - illustrates five problematic listening styles to help people identify which traits they may have and how not to be an Attention Splitter, Filler, Fixer, Interviewer or Worrier. Three provides practical tips like asking open questions to give a friend space to explore and express their feelings, practicing non-judgmental listening, not filling awkward silences and resisting the urge to fix a friend's problem.
- In meaningful exchanges, the role of the listener is vital (which is why a meaningful conversation can be so much more rewarding than simply writing down our thoughts, or talking to ourselves when we’re home alone). An effective listener enables us to get feedback about who we are through their eyes and this in turn can enable us to better understand ourselves.
- For Psyche, what comes up again and again on the topic of good conversations is the importance of really listening, and how rarely people do it. In his classic self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote: ‘Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.’ To correct this instinct, as well as asking good questions, we need to make a concerted effort to really listen to the response.
- Maria Popova extols the "sanctifying power of listening" and finds it in what writer Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître explore in the simply titled Listen , what Popova calls a "serenade to the heart-expanding, life-enriching, world-ennobling art of attentiveness as a wellspring of self-understanding, of empathy for others, of reverence for the loveliness of life", and evocative of philosopher Simone Weil’s assertion that “attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.”
- Ex-hostage negotiator and founder of the Listening Institute, Richard Mullender, defines listening as “the identification, selection and interpretation of the key words that turn information into intelligence.” To put it simply, we listen so we can understand what the speaker is trying to accomplish. As we muddle our way through the pandemic, lockdowns and (for some of us) working from home, listening can be a valuable tool. Mullender shared some ideas with The Economist about how to become a better listener:
- The Economist noted that some firms use a technique known as a “listening circle” in which participants are encouraged to talk openly and honestly about the issues they face (such as problems with colleagues). In such a circle, only one person can talk at a time and there is no interruption. A study cited in the Harvard Business Review found that employees who had taken part in a listening circle subsequently suffered less social anxiety and had fewer worries about work-related matters than those who did not.
- Building strong relationships largely comes down to how we listen to others. And while not all of us are naturally gifted listeners, we can improve with practice. A UC Santa Barbara psychology professor recommends we break the process down into three core steps. To start with, we can pay active, silent attention to what others are saying. Next, we can repeat what we have heard in our own words, making sure we understand what's been said (even if we don't agree). And finally, we can ask open-ended questions, the kind that can't be answered with a yes or no and demonstrate that we are processing what we've heard.
- Reports revealed that contractors had reviewed voice recordings for Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Whistleblowers revealed they had overheard private discussions between doctors and patients, sexual encounters, business deals and more. The voice assistants in our homes, cars and pockets were often summoned accidentally, and although anonymous, these revelations confirmed a common fear shared by many in today’s interconnected, always-on society... that maybe, someone really is always listening in on us, claimed the Future Today Institute (FTI).
- Smart speakers, audio recorders built into our various gadgets, digital phone assistants and a host of advanced AI technologies means we often come into contact with persistent audio surveillance systems. This is especially true in public areas. China has already deployed networks of speakers that eavesdrop on conversations to extract meaning. In 2018, Walmart patented technology to listen in on the interactions between store guests and employees, as well as ambient noise: clothing being moved on and off racks, items being selected from shelves, and the clicking sounds we make on our mobile devices. All of this noise can be used to hunt for insights, added FTI, warning that under a worst-case scenario big tech and consumer device industries would collect and store our conversations surreptitiously, anonymise and sell it to developers who would then allow others access to our voice data: business intelligence firms, market research agencies, polling agencies, political parties and individual law enforcement organisations. Consumers would have little to no ability to see and understand how their voice data are being used and by whom.
- The Art of Deep Listening argued that, despite the fact that 55% of our time is spent listening, deep listening is a skill that only 2% of people really grasp. The book argues that we can practice and apply deep listening, and doing so can prevent miscommunications and their effects in the workplace such as job turnover and lost sales.
- Forbes warned that the digital world is no longer about expanding our own horizons by learning from others with different experiences and expertise and engaging in two-way debate and thoughtful dialog. It is merely a place for us to speak to the world and leave without listening. How is this shift from listening to talking changing our world? Accustomed to quietly listening to others all their lives, the digital citizenry were in an instant all handed megaphones and told to scream out anything and everything that popped into their heads. Perhaps then the most important question of our digital future is how we might learn to briefly stop talking and start listening once again.
- It’s widely known that the most successful communicators are the ones who listen effectively. Yet so many today are listening only to hear for the break in the conversation that gives them their turn to talk. That is not a recipe for success personally or professionally. The skill of listening takes practice and is not always intuitive. The goal of a business is to reach as many potential customers as possible and share your message as many times as they’ll let you. This leads many entrepreneurs to craft their brand and their message based solely on what they want to say, not what they’ve actually heard from the marketplace. One entrepreneur even told Forbes that he believes the listening deficiency that’s "plaguing" the entrepreneurial community stems from the "massively overhyped idea of branding".
- Many professional people like to have their voice heard, to get a seat at the top table. While it can be important to create situations in which to hear and understand decisions directly, they should not overlook the importance of simply listening. Listening and communicating what they hear, and what they don’t hear, can help move teams and entire organisations forward.
- Along with speaking, reading, and writing, listening is one of the "four skills" of language learning. All language teaching approaches, except for grammar translation, incorporate a listening component.
- In business and elsewhere, there is an increasing focus on active listening, which means listening to what someone is saying, and attempting to understand what is being said. The listener is attentive, non-judgemental and non-interrupting. An active listener analyser what the speaker is saying for hidden messages, and meanings contained in the verbal communication. An active listener looks for non-verbal messages from the speaker in order to indicate the full meaning of what is being said.
- Every time people talk to devices like Google Assistant, there's a chance someone might listen to the audio from that conversation, meaning that tech companies record, save, and transmit voice data in a way that can be accessed by actual people. So much for privacy, warned Inc.
- Something has gone wrong with the flow of information, warned Aeon. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making - wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.
- Further reading:
- Active listening, argued The School of Life (TSOL), recognises that our ideas, memories and concerns don’t have to fall into neat, well-formed sentences. We are allowed to stumble and get confused. But the active listener contains and gardens the emerging confusion. They gently take us back over ground we’d covered too fast and prompt us to address a salient point we might deftly have sidestepped; they will help us chip away at an agitating issue while continually reassuring us that what we are saying is valuable. All the while, they will note minor changes in our facial expressions and tone of voice. They will be interested in the way we choose our words, and attentive not only to what we actually express but to how we might otherwise have put it.