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TEDTalk Tuesday: The Art of Listening by Kathleen Macferran

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. In this thought provoking talk, Kathleen Macferran explores the power of listening to open doors and potentially to transform people.

As a former conductor of a symphony, Kathleen Macferran knows well how to listen for musical beauty and how to hear harmony…from the podium. She wondered, though, if she could learn to listen as well in the other places of her life that made listening more difficult…such as prisons and schools. Could listening be a pathway to beauty off the podium? She decided to do a bit of experimenting.

With her belief that true listening involves no “right or wrong”, rather it being a pathway to opening doors and potentially transforming human beings, she enrolled in a “Non-violent Communication” course with Marshall Rosenberg. Here she learned that it is the quality of listening that is the key to knowing what people care about – no matter how their words are expressed. She also learned that listening can transform disconnection into harmony and can be the fundamental key to dialogue, which is the prerequisite to change. Such potential!

As her presentation continues, she shares experiences in prisons, schools and with her father of 83 years. The stories are touching and impactful: beautiful examples of the power of listening…of dropping our own personal agendas and truly listening to another being. She learned: listening restores relationships and listening transforms lives. It makes the impossible possible.

As she concludes her talk, Kathleen illuminates the concept that listening is an opportunity to make a choice to extend our full presence, our uncluttered attention, to what matters most to another person. And no, this isn’t always easy…but it is possible. When was the last time you listened without imposing your own thoughts (opinions, judgments, advice) onto another? When was the last time I did so? Perhaps the time is “now” for all of us to begin truly listening.

In conclusion, Kathleen shares her opinion that listening is the foundation to speaking and that we don’t need to study it …rather, simply tune in and let another’s words be heard deeply. We need each other, she continues, and listening is, she contends, the most powerful form of love.

Please give Kathleen’s talk “a listen”: it will be well worth your time!

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