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Listening Skills - How To Listen Better

Updated on October 28, 2015
Listening, listen to ME
Listening, listen to ME | Source

Are your listening skills up to par? Listening is something we all do. And it is something we have done all our lives, so what more do you need to know about it?

There is plenty of chatter these days to listen to. Whether it is your kids playing, the television making noise, a car driving by, or the vacuum cleaner being run, we are overwhelmed by sound. All of this sound is having the effect of making us lose our listening; we simply block it out.

As we block it out, we are losing even more. We are losing our ability to understand each other. We are becoming impatient. We want to get our information in short bursts. We are becoming desensitized, and it takes being even louder, or more obnoxious to be heard. And at the center of all of this, it is so much harder to hear and pay attention to the subtle messages; the quiet sounds go unnoticed.

What Is Listening?

Listening is the ability to make meaning from sounds. It is a mental process and a process of extraction. Although 60% of our time spent communicating with others is actually listening, we are only retaining 25% of that.

Crowd | Source

Listening Techniques

With so many sounds around us, how do we hear the specific things that we need to listen to? There are several techniques we use to listen effectively, and increase our listening skills. Among them are:

Pattern Recognition - we learn to recognize certain sounds as important. For instance, in a noisy room, you easily notice your name being spoken, and turn your attention towards where it is coming from.

Differentiating - We discount any noise that is repeating and remains the same. This is how white noise and pink noise work. As it continues to play, your brain simply filters it out as not important, and the sound fades into the background.

Filters - We apply a variety of other filters to the sounds that are around us.

Listening Anchors Time and Space

Sound places us in time and space. We keep track of where we are by the sounds around us. We use sound reverberations of of walls, for example, to know how close we are to it. We also use the micro noises of the people around us to determine where they are in relation to us.

Sound has time embedded in it. We notice the passage of time based on the sounds we here. Without sound, time passes in a very different way.

Zen Garden
Zen Garden | Source

5 Tips To Listen Betten

How can we learn to listen better? Julian Treasure shares these five tips for improving our listening in his TED Talk.

1. Silence - even just 3 minutes a day of silence will reset your ears and re calibrate them to hear the quiet sounds again. If you can't find complete silence, go for quiet.

2. Mixer - Use your hearing to separate the sounds, like a mixer. Next time you are in a noisy place, see how many different channels of sound you can hear. You can practice in a restful place too. Do you hear the wind? Birds? Water? What is in your surroundings?

3. Savoring - Learn to enjoy the mundane sounds of life that are all around you. What does the dryer running remind you of? Could it be a waltz? What about the blender, or the faucet running? What about the dinner sizzling in the fry pan? These are the hidden choir of life all around us.

4. Listening Position

Try hearing things from different positions where applicable. Play with your minds filters. See what happens when you hear things from opposite filters, such as:

  • active /passive
  • reductive /expansive
  • critical / empathic

5. Acronym - RASA

Rasa is a Sanskrit word meaning juice, or essence.





TED Talk: Julian Treasure: 5 Ways To Listen Better

Listening Is A Skill

In order to live fully, you must first listen consciously. It keeps us connected in time and space to what is physically around us. I t keeps us connected in understanding to each other. As we listen and contemplate, we are connected to our spirituality.

Listening is a skill that can be learned, and practiced. How can you improve your listening skills?


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    • profile image

      SirJackSullivan 4 years ago

      Thank you for this article. I was researching this topic in the last days and didnt know there is so much around about this. Another good article is

      It shows different question techniques which is really useful for difficult situations. And dont forget what George Bernard Shaw said:

      The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

    • Sparkle Chi profile image

      Cate 5 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      That is very true! Speech is very difficult to learn if one has difficulty hearing, although it is not impossible.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Listening is the best way to learn things. If a child has hearing problem, he will also have problem with speech. Thanks for sharing useful tips.

    • Sparkle Chi profile image

      Cate 5 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      Mhatter99, Very true! I do have to admit to having my moments to ramble on, but I am honest about it! :) I have found that so often what people need is not advice, but simply to have someone listen to them and perhaps reflect back or help organize their own thoughts.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      sorry to get back to you so late. people are always blah blah blah. few really listen; rather they are waiting their turn to talk. Then there are those who like to give advise without hearing the problem. Hence an active (visual) listener is sot out. a good listener speaks when they have something to say. And then, they are brief and the point.

    • Sparkle Chi profile image

      Cate 5 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      Thank you for your comment!

      How did listening help you to get extra donations? It is always wonderful to hear actual examples!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      very very good. having studied music for 14 years that part goes without saying. but being a good people listener did help me get extra donations for my charities.

    • Sparkle Chi profile image

      Cate 5 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      I'm so glad you found my hub useful! I understand how hard it can be to get silence, even for three minutes a day. I contend with the kids, the fans, and the neighbor's dogs! And I wish I could say that at night it got any quieter!

      I like to run a sleep meditation at night. I fall asleep to a soothing voice or music, but it automatically stops at the end, giving me silence AND restful sleep.

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 5 years ago

      I love this hub. I am working on my listening skills. I appreciate the part where you stated 3 minutes of silence. I never have silence. When I go to sleep, the tv is on. Thanks again for this hub. Great.