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"The primary focus of this path of choosing wisely is learning to stay present. Pausing very briefly, frequently throughout the day, is an almost effortless way to do this. For just a few seconds we can be right here. Meditation is another way to train in learning to stay or learning to come back, to return to the present over and over again."
~ Pema Chödrön, from Taking the Leap  
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Entries in listening (48)


A Battle of Arguments


Excerpt from "What Can You Learn about Persuasion from Hostage Negotiation?" a Barking Up the Wrong Tree interview with Chris Voss:

What are the most common mistakes people make when negotiating?

They neglect to pay attention to emotional factors, and they really neglect to listen.

I compare a lot of negotiations to dealing with a schizophrenic, because a schizophrenic’s always got a voice in his head talking to him which makes it very hard for him to listen to you.

Now most people in business negotiations, they approach the negotiation, and they’ve got firmly in their mind all of the arguments that support their position. So when they’re not talking, they’re thinking about their arguments, and when they are talking, they’re making their arguments. They view negotiation as a battle of arguments.

If while you’re making your argument, the only time the other side is silent is because they’re thinking about their own argument, they’ve got a voice in their head that’s talking to them. They’re not listening to you. When they’re making their argument to you, you’re thinking about your argument, that’s the voice in your head that’s talking to you. So it’s very much like dealing with a schizophrenic.

If your first objective in the negotiation, instead of making your argument, is to hear the other side out, that’s the only way you can quiet the voice in the other guy’s mind. But most people don’t do that. They don’t walk into a negotiation wanting to hear what the other side has to say. They walk into a negotiation wanting to make an argument. They don’t pay attention to emotions and they don’t listen.

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The Starting Point



The Problem is the Resistance

Excerpt from "Finding Peace During Noisy Trips," by Stephanie Rosenbloom, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2013: 

"Denial of what’s going on just doesn’t work,” said Andy Puddicombe, who discusses the benefits of meditation in his book Get Some Headspace and on his Web site, Attempting to ignore the loudmouth next to you by breathing deeply is what Mr. Puddicombe calls a classic meditation-related mistake — and one that’s likely to frustrate you even more as you struggle to focus on your breath instead of the noise. Besides, there’s not much you can do about a plane or train buzzing with sounds. What you can change, of course, is how you respond.

“The sound — that in itself isn’t the problem,” Mr. Puddicombe said. “The problem is the resistance in our mind.” In other words, don’t sit there fuming about the shouting child and his ineffectual parents. Mr. Puddicombe said your discomfort is not the shouting, it’s the gap between reality (the noisy child) and what you want the situation to be (quiet). What Mr. Puddicombe calls “mindfulness meditation” (essentially being in the present moment) can help bridge the space between reality and desire. “It’s letting go of what we want it to be,” he said, “and moving closer to acceptance of what is happening right now.” (Hint: this can also be applied to matters of work, health, love.)

How wonderfully sane. But how to do it?

First, simply acknowledge that you’re frustrated (in your head, not by lobbing a shoe). “When you look at resistance it starts to lose its intensity,” Mr. Puddicombe said. Then, listen to the sound. Don’t blame the noisemakers. Just listen to the sound.

“If you give that your full attention,” Mr. Puddicombe said, “eventually the mind will get bored of it.” He gave as an example being on an hourlong train ride next to someone with iPod music loud enough for you to hear. Your mind simply won’t stay focused on the music for an hour, Mr. Puddicombe said.

When listening to a noise, aim for “gentle acceptance.” Don’t worry about deep breathing. “Let go of the breath,” Mr. Puddicombe said. “We’re not talking about some sort of escapist trick of the mind.”

Beginners and skeptics may want to try his free daily meditation app, Headspace (on-the-go). It’s brief and includes instruction so you’re not alone with your subconscious and a didgeridoo. His simple mindfulness tips are seen by scores of passengers on Virgin Atlantic, which has a Headspace channel with videos about falling sleep, even meditation for kids.


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Quiet Enough for Long Periods of Time

"Sounds from The Great Animal OrchestraWhen you listen to any soundscape, a natural soundscape, you are listening to information that tells you about biology, about resource management , medicine, religion, natural history, architecture, literature, physics, and many, many others.

For instance, people have asked me why you do this. Well, partly because I suffer from a terrible case of ADHD. I've always had this as a kid. And I had it as an adult, and I'm not much into medication. So the only thing that calms me down is going out into the natural world and listening to these creatures.

And being quiet enough for long periods of time and just shutting up and listening to things. I can't rustle my clothes, I can't move around and shuffle my feet around. I've got to sit very quietly for long periods of time, and that's what this has taught me to do. So in terms of healing and a certain kind if medicine, that's one thing the soundscape does.

It also speaks to us about religion. For instance, it's the natural soundscape from which we acquire spirituality. That was the voice of the divine for us for so many years, while we lived closely connected to the natural world."

~ Dr. Bernie Krause, from "The Great Animal Orchestra," To the Best of Our Knowledge, Nov. 11, 2012

Dr. Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra from California Academy of Sciences on

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The Problem with Listening

"The problem with listening, of course, is that we don't. There's too much noise going on in our heads, so we never hear anything. The inner conversation simply never stops. It can be our voice or whatever voices we want to supply, but it's a constant racket. In the same way we don't see, and in the same way we don't feel, we don't touch, we don't taste...The essential activity of listening requires at least a minimal point of attention. And that allows us to keep the flow of attention uninterrupted."

~ Philip Glass, "Listening to Philip Glass," Tricycle Magazine, Fall 1999

See also: "A Conversation with Philip Glass," Studio 360, September 14, 2012