Julian Treasure is a man on a mission.

His mission is to get people listening more carefully and attentively to one another and to the world they inhabit. To appreciate the power of Treasure’s vision it is necessary to actually see and hear his presentation. His TED Talks provide an opportunity to experience him in action: http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better#t-231944

Treasure warns that,

The art of conversation is being replaced, dangerously I think, by personal broadcasting.

In “personal broadcasting,” there is no listening. People stand on either side of the barriers that separate them and hurl their unconscious prejudices across the great divide of their isolation. No one listens because there has been no serious personal deep and honest reflection before speaking. When we engage in “personal broadcasting” we are avoiding the struggle that is essential to true listening. We are refusing to acknowledge the complexity of issues and the possible validity of points of view different from our own.

“Personal broadcasting” always leads to violence because it starts from a place where the other side’s position has already been judged and dismissed. “Personal broadcasting” starts from the position that says, “I cannot move from this position.” From this position, it is impossible for me to truly hear anything you may say that does not conform with my stance.

Julian Treasure points out that without listening, understanding becomes impossible.

Listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening creates understanding.

“Understanding” is such an interesting and powerful word. What am I doing if I choose to “stand under” something? I am supporting that something or that someone in achieving the goals they have. To “understand” is to support another person in being truly heard.  I come to understanding when I am willing to serve the purpose of helping you feel you are able to communicate fully and deeply the most cherished thoughts, ideas and visions you hold.

Julian Treasure lists seven “filters” that “inhibit real listening”:

Culture

Language

Beliefs

Attitudes

Expectations

Intentions

Treasure asserts that these filters

actually create our reality

They shape the way we process the world we inhabit. They dictate what we hear and how we receive everything we hear.

True listening is destroyed by my refusal to admit that every word I receive comes to me through these seven filters. When I am unwilling to acknowledge how much my filters shape my perceptions of reality, true communication will always be impossible.

It is profoundly disrespectful of people whose culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and intentions differ from mine to refuse to admit how dramatically our differences are shaped by the impact of these realities on our lives. When I determine that we disagree simply because you are wrong and are refusing to acknowledge the validity of my point, understanding is impossible.

I must always be willing to acknowledge that I may be wrong. It is always possible that new information may cause me to need to shift my position.

Admitting the existence of filters does not mean it is impossible to hold deep convictions. But, it does require the willingness to acknowledge that there is no such thing as objective reality in any position I adopt.

Humility requires that I admit the impact of filters on my ability to share openly in conversation. Listening is only possible when I am willing to acknowledge the filters through which I am processing everything you say and that shape everything I try to communicate.