5 Ways to Listen Better

Julian Treasure, 5 Ways to Listen Better, Ted Talk (July 2011).
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Julian Treasure, a leading expert on sound and how to use it best, states that “listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening always creates understanding.” We listen through filters of our culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and intentions. To be a better listener, he suggests we listen with an awareness of our filters and adjust them to fit the context and to what we are listening.

Five ways to listen better:

  1. Be silent. Spend three minutes a day in silence. This “is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again.”
  2. Hear. Listen to the individual sounds that contribute to the mix of sounds in a noisy place. Ask yourself “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.”
  3. Savor. Find the joy in mundane sounds; they can be really interesting. For example, listen to the rhythm of the dryer or coffee grinder. He calls the mundane sounds “the hidden choir. It's around us all the time.”
  4. Adjust. Change “your listening position to what's appropriate to what you're listening to.” Be conscious of the filters (culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations and intentions) through which you are listening and make adjustments.
  5. RASA. “Receive, which means pay attention to the person; Appreciate, making little noises like "hmm," "oh," "okay"; Summarize, the word "so" is very important in communication; and Ask, ask questions afterward.”


“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.”

He envisions “transform[ing] the world in one generation to a conscious listening world — a world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace.”