How well do you listen to those around you…really listen that is? If we are totally honest we probably only take in 25% of what we say we listen to. And yet, we spend about 60% of our time ‘listening’ or should I say hearing sounds rather than truly taking onboard what is being said.

This is significant as we learn, grow and change by listening. We find out about ourselves as we react to what we hear from those around us. Deep or active listening can validate our well-being and sense of place. As a result, purposeful listening has the capacity to effect change in our world every day. This is a remarkable fact.

I am sure you can remember times in your life where you were deeply listened to and how important that was for you at that time. I am sure you can also remember those times or those people who did not listen to you and how that impacted upon your relationship. Both of these experiences change how we see the world and the people in it. Being listened to or not listened to changes us forever. What else has this kind of influence over us?

So then, with this knowledge in mind how are you listening to your significant others? Your children, partner and your extended family? If these people matter to you then we must learn to listen more deeply. Here are 5 tips I learnt from the ‘listening expert’ Julian Treasure (you can view his TED talk here) about conscious listening to improve our active listening skills:

  1. Find 3 minutes of silence a day to recalibrate your ears. This will help you focus on the task of listening with purpose.
  2. Find a place with multiple sounds, e.g. at the beach or in shopping centre, and identify each sound that you can hear. It is a great tool to improve your capacity to tune into what really matters around you.
  3. Savor mundane sounds, this will help you to start appreciating the hidden sounds around you and help you to pay attention to common sounds, like the voices of our family, with great detail and appreciation.
  4. Develop listening positions and know when to use them. You consciously use active or passive listening skills such as holding your tongue or acknowledgment with a ‘hmmm’ or ‘uh-ha’. Another listening position is critical or empathetic listening. This is learning when to just be present or become a joint problem solver. Being able to adopt the right listening position at the right time is crucial to powerful relationship change.
  5. Remember this acronym RASA. R- receiving the information accurately. A – appreciate the person and the message. S- summarize key messages. A- ask for feedback to ensure that you have it right.

Some of these tips are oldies but they are very powerful. Others may be new to you, but let me assure you they work like a treat. If you want a change in a relationship (at work or at home) then work on your listening and watch how you, in the first instance, change and then enjoy the change in the other person.