The power of listening | William Ury | TEDxSanDiego

Translator: Mary Kay
Reviewer: Denise RQ There’s an ancient and well-known
philosophical riddle that asks: “If a tree falls in the forest
and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” A scientific view is that,
while a tree will make waves in the air, to make a sound,
it takes an ear to hear it. My question is, if a person speaks and offers
a TED Talk, for example, and no one listens,
is that really communication? I believe that listening is
the missing half of communication. It is absolutely necessary
but often overlooked. We live in an age we call
the Age of Communication. Certainly, with cell phones,
texts, tweets, and emails, there is a lot of talking going on. But how much listening can there really be with so much interruption and distraction? My passion for the last 30 years
has been helping people get to “yes” in very tough negotiations. From family feuds to boardroom battles,
from labor strikes to civil wars. I hear a lot of talking, but I don’t hear
a lot of real listening. We think of negotiation
as being about talking. In fact, it’s really about listening. If you study the behavior
of successful negotiators, you find that they listen
far more than they talk. After all, we’re given two ears
and one mouth for a reason. We should listen at least
twice as much as we speak. Why listen? Why is it so important?
Let me tell you a story. Some years ago, I was in the country
of Venezuela serving as a third party between the government
and the political opposition at a time of intense conflict,
with a lot of people fearing a civil war. My colleague, Francisco Diaz and I
had an appointment with the President, Hugo Chavez,
at 9:00 PM at the Presidential Palace. Finally, at midnight, we were ushered in
to see the President who had his entire cabinet
arrayed behind him. He asked me: “So, Ury, what do you think
of the situation going on here?” I said: “Mr. President, I’ve been talking
to your ministers here, to the opposition. I think you’re making some progress.” “Progress? What do you mean
progress?” he shouted. “You’re blind. You’re not seeing all the dirty tricks
those traitors are up to.” He leaned in very close to my face
and proceeded to shout. What was I going to do? Part of me felt like
defending myself, naturally. But what good would it do for me to get into an argument
with the President of Venezuela? (Laughter) How would that advance peace?
So I just listened. I gave him my full attention.
I listened to where he was coming from. President Chavez was famous
for making eight hour speeches. After 30 minutes of me
just nodding and listening, I saw his shoulders slowly sag. He said to me in a very weary tone
of voice: “So, Ury, what should I do?” That’s the sound of a human
mind opening to listen. I said: “Mr. President,
it’s almost Christmas. The country needs a break. Last year, all the festivities
were canceled because of the conflict. Why not propose a truce this time so that people can enjoy
the holidays with their families? After that, maybe everybody
will be in a better mood to listen.” He said: “That’s a great idea. I’m going
to announce that in my next speech.” His mood has completely shifted. How? Through the simple
power of listening. Because I listened to him,
he was more ready to listen to me. There are at least three important reasons why it’s important to listen
in any negotiation or conflict. The first is that it helps us
understand the other side. Negotiation, after all,
is an exercise in influence. You’re trying to change
someone else’s mind. How can you possibly change
someone else’s mind if you don’t know where their mind is? Listening is key. The second reason is just as important. It helps us connect with
the other human being. It helps us build rapport.
It builds trust. It shows we care. After all, everybody wants to be heard. The third reason is,
as with President Chavez, it makes it more likely that the other
person will listen to us. It helps get to “yes.” In short, listening may be
the cheapest concession we can make in a negotiation. It costs us nothing,
and it brings huge benefits. Listening may be the golden key
that opens the door to human relationship. How do we listen? It turns out that we often
take listening for granted as something easy and natural. But in fact, at least in my experience,
real genuine listening is something that needs to be learned
and practiced every day. In ordinary listening,
we’re hearing the words. We’re often thinking, “Where do I agree?
Where do I disagree? What am I going to say in response?”
In other words, the focus is on us. In genuine listening, however,
the spotlight moves to the other person. We put ourselves in their shoes.
We tune into their wavelength. We listen from within their frame
of reference, not just ours. That’s not easy. In genuine listening, we listen
not just for what’s being said, but for what’s not being said. We listen not just to the words,
but to what’s behind the words. We listen for the underlying
emotions, feelings, and needs. We listen for what that person
really needs or wants. Let me give you an example. About a year and a half ago, I was
invited to help a Brazilian entrepreneur by the name of Abilio Diniz. He was trapped in a titanic legal dispute with his French business partner over
the control of Brazil’s largest retailer. The Financial Times called it perhaps the biggest cross-continental boardroom
showdown in recent history. It had gone on for two and a half years. It was immensely costly and stressful, not only to both parties
but to their families and the 150,000 employees
of the company. When I sat down with Abilio
in his home, I listened to his story. After that, I had a question. I said: “Abilio, help me understand here.
What do you really want?” He said: “Well, I want
the stock at a certain price. I want the company headquarters. I want the elimination
of the non-compete clause.” He gave me a list. As I listened, I heard
something deeper there that was unspoken. I asked him: “Abilio, you’re a man
who seems to have everything. What are these things
really going to give you? What do you most want in your life?” He paused for a moment
and thought about it. Finally, he said: “Freedom.
I want my freedom. I want to be free to pursue
my business dreams. I want to be free to spend time
with my family.” That was it. I was hearing the human being
behind the words not just the champion businessman. Once we were clear about his deepest need, then the negotiation itself,
while challenging, became a lot easier. In four short days, my colleagues and I, by listening to the other side, were able to take this titanic dispute and resolve it with a settlement
that left both sides highly satisfied. As Abilio being a friend
in the process later told me, “I got everything I wanted.
But most importantly, I got my life back.” How did that happen?
Through the simple power of listening. If listening is so useful,
why isn’t everyone doing it? To tell you the truth, it’s not so easy. If I reflect on my own experience
for a moment, there are times when I feel like
I’m listening pretty well in my work, only to go home and find out
I’m not listening so well to my wife. It’s humbling. I can tell you. The real problem in the way,
what makes it so hard to listen is that there is so much
going on in our minds. There is so much noise and distraction that we don’t have the mental
and emotional space to be able to truly listen
to the other side. How do we clear our minds? It may seem odd, but the secret is, if we want to listen to the other side, we have to learn
to listen to ourselves first. When I was sitting there
with President Chavez, what really helped me
was that, just beforehand, I had taken a few moments of quiet to pay attention to
what was going on for me. I listened to myself to quiet my mind. When he began shouting, I was ready. I could notice that my cheeks
were reddening, and my jaw was a little clenched. I felt some fear and anxiety. By paying attention
to those sensations and emotions, I was able to let them go, so that I could truly listen
to President Chavez. What if, before an important,
delicate or sensitive conversation, we took a moment of silence just
to tune in and listen to where we are? I believe that if we did that,
if we truly listened to ourselves first, we would find it a lot easier
to listen to others. The final question is,
if we listened more, what difference would
it make in the world? I believe it would make a huge difference. In the course of my mediation work, I personally witnessed
the enormous cost of conflict, the broken relationships, families,
the stressed out work places, the ruinous law suits,
and the senseless wars. What always strikes me is
the biggest opportunity we have actually, is to prevent these conflicts
even before they start. How do we do that? It’s not easy, but it almost always
starts with one simple step. Listening. This is my dream. A listening revolution that can turn this Age of Communication
into an Age of Listening. In other words, an age
of true communication. Imagine for a moment a world in which every child learns
to listen at an early age. What if we taught listening in school, like we teach reading, as a core skill? After all, listening
is how you read people. Imagine a world in which parents
learn to listen to their children. What better way after all, is there for us
to teach our children to listen to us than for us to listen to them? What better way for us to show
our children that they truly matter? What better way is there to show our love? As an extra bonus, maybe we’d see happier marriages
and fewer divorces, as couples learned
to listen to each other. Imagine a world in which leaders
learned how to listen to their people. What if we chose leaders based
on their ability to listen, not just talk? What if listening became
the norm in our organizations and not just the exception? What if on radio and TV we had not just talk shows,
but listen shows? (Laughter) What if we had not just
peace talks, but peace listens? I firmly believe that we’d get
to ‘yes’ a lot more often. We might not eliminate all conflict, but we would avert
a lot of fights and wars. Everybody would be much better off. I, very happily, might be out of a job. That’s my dream. While it may seem audacious,
it’s not that complicated. Listening can be a chain reaction in which each person
who is genuinely listened to feels naturally inspired
to listen to the next. Listening can be contagious. I invite you to start this chain reaction today,
right here, right now. In your next conversation
with a colleague, client, partner, or child,
a friend or a stranger, give them your full attention. Listen to the human being
behind the words. One of the biggest gifts we can give
anyone is the gift of being heard. With the simple power of listening now, we can transform our relationships, our families, and our world
for the better, ear by ear. Thank you for listening. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The power of listening | William Ury | TEDxSanDiego

  1. One of the best talks on Listening. My teacher Guru Nanak said, if you can master art of listening, you can even trick death 🙂

  2. 🌹🌹🌹🌹

    He who can do this…
    Has the whole world with him

  3. After a lot of time of failure I finally figured out the problem with me. I want to speak not listen
    I'll try my best to start listening

  4. It's still hard to believe that one of the main issues i had with my last ex girlfriend was my inability to listen her during an argument.

  5. a truism that is so hard to master in practice… the Bible teaches this principle in the book of James, we are taught to be slow to speak and quick to listen…

  6. His talk is inspired of Marshall Rosenberg work. Check NVC, Non Violent Communication.

  7. with psychopath/narcissist/sociopath you can not talk and communicate

  8. This is a very inspiring speech!! I like his soft and calm voice. I want to listen to his speeches again and again.

  9. Excellent talk given by the master William Ury on this essential skill to negotiation.

  10. Some of the best national interviewers are those that let the interviewee talk. I saw a good example of that the other day with Piers Morgan being interviewed on Fox News. The interviewer didn't try to steal the show.

  11. Sad that it needs to be said … and I am full of appreciation for his commitment to peace and sharing it.

  12. Absolutely important presentation, No doubt, listening help us prevent the stream of mind from taking us over. Thank you Willian Ury,

  13. Escutar é essencial e muito necessário.
    Prontos para ouvir, tardio para falar…
    Excelente ensino este vídeo.

  14. Giving lecture about listen all while not listening once but talking lol. Just saying

  15. This is one of the absolute best TED talks you can every listen to. But, if you just listen to Ury nothing will change. Fo forth and listen. 🙂

  16. Chavez opening to listen! Hahaha! He was a lier. He NEVER listened people that thought different because he was a dictator. So it was the worst example ever!

  17. Look the style of his speech, the volume, and rhythms of his voice.
    This man has already evolved to be a listener, a true listener.
    Thanks for this great speech.

  18. I'm watching this video because I want to improve my listening in English.. 😅😀

  19. What I do not like it’s that the Venezuela government has used the same strategy for many year to avoid a social explosion and keep themselves on the power! But probably you didn’t know that you were helping such bad person

  20. you're absolutely right about your top-notch information that you deliver from us. Thank you to exist

  21. I never realised how bad i was at listening until i actually tried to listen better. It's great because when people can see you're actually listening they open up more and trust you more.

  22. The best Lawyers are the best listeners–. The Prophets in the Old Testament "LISTENED" TO God when many others wouldn't…
    And obeyed His word.

  23. Exactly how I build most of my relationships with people just listening it gets me a long way I promise

  24. I have noticed listening is not easy at 1 point I was going to school to be a psychologist

  25. "The Hugo Chavez reference doesn't work. His policies have destroyed the lives of his people, who now eat out of bins." clapclapclap

  26. Здравствуйте, меня зовут Вадим. Я умею слушать людей, с 16 лет. И упражнялся с 8 лет, поскольку в детстве мне приходилось не очень, и услышал одни слова от своего отца : " Чтобы вести переговори я в детстве приходил к одному человеку в офис и слушал как он слушает людей по 30 минут, чтобы в итоге они выслушали его!"- говорит мне отец. С детства я не очень подержывал розговори в компании, но внимательно слушал все истории, все разговоры за столом на Новый Год или день рождение. У свои 17 я научился слушать и устранять агрессию в спорах или ссорах. Я анализирую и ставлю себя на их место, рассуждая чем переубедить или помочь. То есть читаю людей слушая их. Я внушаю им уверенность или страх перед чем то, потому что я слушаю что их в себе не удовлетворяет или что они боятся. Я даже после 1 встречи смог заворожить девушек и начать с ними встречаться, предлагая по телефону или чату, потому что слушал их и знал как себя вести как розговаривать и о чем, узнавая с информации их предпочтение. Прошу вас связаться со мной, что бы рассмотреть мои навыки которые я натренировал за всю жизнь. Думаю я вас переубедил.
    Извините за пунктуацыю (я с укр.)

  27. Simple lesson made interesting and powerful.. Listening is the best gift you can give to of the best TED talks💛👍

  28. Thank you for THiS VIDEO 👍👍👍
    I KNOW I could learn to LISTEN MORE 🙏🙏🙏

    I VOW to do THiS chain reaction event! To GIVE MY FULL ATTENTION ❤

  29. Good speech! Learn to listen everyday to yourself first and then to others: good advice!

  30. I understand the spatial dimensions in it's various forms. I'll make a conscious effort not to convey the idea, it's not there rest assured.

  31. It’s unbelievable speech. Thank you so much for emphasizing the importance of listening skill. I really learned a lot on your speech and to be honest with you, I failed my english test before,but with the help of my listening skill, I realized that it is really essential to develop our listening skill.

  32. We should listen this video very seriously. Mr Ury is telling as like as my classteacher(S.B) tells.

  33. Imagine a world where everybody just listened? This guy would be out of a job.

  34. Thank you Sir for sharing your thoughts on listening, its really helpful, I will definitely implement it my life.

  35. Very powerful information and is something helpful for me with my interactions with people. I will pass this along. I would love to do workshops around this information in my community. Thank you again.

  36. This is one of the worst thing with millennials. Lack of listening because of gadgets. I see my children does this always and I literally had to yell at them to listen to me always 🙁 sad but truth!!

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