Listening

This is a very short talk and the speaker offers several, straight forward recommendations on being better listeners...
  • Take three minutes for silence (or the quietest place available)
    • Listening to the different sources of sound in a given area (example - Cars, AC, birds, ect)
    • "Savoring" - enjoy mundane sounds  (maybe even some ASMR!)
    • Change your "Listening Position" - interesting he says this is the most important but doesn't go into a lot of detail. By this he means to intentionally switch the role you assume in (and purpose of) conversation (for example become empathetic instead of critical). I found one of his older talks where he expands on this idea. One key distinction is "reductive vs. expansive" language. The former seeks to cull out everything that is not important while the later is more open-ended listening. I know I personally tend to do very little of the latter.  
    • RASA 
      • Receive (pay attention) 
      • Appreciate (acknowledge what the other person is saying.)
      • Summarize ("So...", "Just to be clear...") 
      • Ask Questions 
    Two weeks ago I felt as though my mind was building plaque. Even with my resolution to watch these videos, I began to feel as though I wasn't getting information from them. A friend suggested I write about them as well. What that required was listening. I then decided to implement them and target them at areas where I am weak. I then forced myself to go deeper. In a lot of ways I came up with my own version of RASA....
    • Be patient. Breathe. Relax. Don't be antsy to go to the next meeting. If you only have five minutes, that is fine, but don't worry about it (or rush) during the period of time you have allotted.
    • Drop mental distractions (Don't let other thoughts keep you from focusing... If you decided to spend time to be with someone (or do a particular activity), make sure you are focused on it exclusively. There are always other things to deal with but don't let them ruin the present.).
    • Seek to fully understand the speakers message (while withholding judgment - there will be time for this lately). Don't just passively absorb information. Try to clearly and articulately note what the speaker is saying. When I reflect on my time in college, I rarely referenced my notes, but the act of writing down key points was quite important. I think this probably has a lot to do with the limitations of working memory. During a lecture I can quickly glance down, and everything fits back into perspective. When I leave I am usually able to integrate the key points into what I already know about the world and recall it later. 
    • Seek common ground - This ties in with the point above about changing ones "listening position" I tend to default to critical, especially in day to day situations. I challenge people's most deeply held beliefs. While this is fine (well, sometimes) it has the effect of separating me from people and their ideas. I need to continue to be active in finding the value when possible.
    • Challenge - this is easy for me (though I think less so for other people), since I think conflict usually (if we can avoid getting emotional) usually brings us to a better understanding of each others values.
    • Expand on the idea. Keep going with it and take it a few steps further. Draw new conclusions. his also makes me think I should consider doing additional research on the topics I encounter - I might watch several TED talks on similar issues or look for articles by the speaker on the same topic 
    • Make the message a part of my life. Integrate what I learn into practice (if possible). It is too easy to sit around and listen but never make any positive changes, which after all, is the purpose.    
    Action item: Participate in"exploratory" listening at least once in the next 24 hours. Then write about it.

    Here is another interesting article that discusses similar points.

    • quiet your inner voice (limit distractions/criticisms)
    • argue with yourself (take the opposing side of your initial impression)
    • stay curious (or at least pretend to be interested) - write down questions. Google them later
    • find the kernel of truth
    • focus on the message not the messenger (don't let the speaker put you off)