I recently saw a presentation on TED.COM featuring Julian Treasure, who was discussing how well we actually listen. Studies have shown that while we spend 60 per cent of our communication time listening, we only retain 25 per cent of what we hear. That is pretty astonishing.
Julian defines listening as making “meaning from sound.” One way of doing this is pattern recognition. For example, if you are standing in a crowded noisy room, you cannot hear individual conversations but you will be able to hear someone call out your name.
Another listening pattern is “differencing listening.” In this case, if you hear the same sound at the same tempo and tone, after a while you tune the sound out.
We also use filters when we are listening, these filters include culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations and intentions. All sound creates our reality and our listening through that reality.
Julian went on to give examples of having the intention of listening to his wife every day like it was the first time. While his intention is good it is very hard to do!
We also listen through space and time. When you are in a boardroom or auditorium, you can close your eyes and still know where you are because the sounds of the room define the space. Try it. Close your eyes for 30 seconds.
Now what did you hear?
The sound of the someone walking by? The sound of an email coming or an SMS?
Maybe it was the sound of a Skype alert?
So, with this in mind, lets look again at the fact that in our communications we listen for 60 per cent of the time, but only retain 25 per cent of what we hear.
This is because we have found other ways to retain information. We can write it down and video or audio tape information that have made us complacent as an audience. So what does this mean for presentations and reports?
Tune in for the next blog to find out!