Someone speaks and nobody listens … is that communication.

A brilliant speech – The Power of Listening, a Ted talk by William Ury coauthor of Getting to Yes my favourite book about negotiation. Notes:


  • I hear a lot of talking but I don’t hear a lot of real listening.
  • We think of negotiation as being about talking. But in fact its really about listening.
  • If you study the behaviour of successful negotiators you find that they listen far more than they talk.
  • Listening helps us understand the other side. Negotiation, after all, is an exercise in influence.
  • How can you possibly change someone else’s mind if you don’t know where there mind is.
  • Listening helps us build rapport. It builds trust. It shows we care. After all everybody wants to be heard.
  • Listening makes it more likely the other person will listen to us. It helps us get to yes.
  • Listening may be the cheapest concession we can make in a negotiation.
  • It costs us nothing and it brings us huge benefits.


  • In ordinary listening we’re hearing the words and we’re often thinking … where do I agree … where do I disagree … what am I going to say in response.
  • In other words in ordinary listening the focus is on us.
  • In genuine listening the spotlight move 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 beaming said but for what’s not being said.
  • We listen for the underlying emotions, feelings and needs. We listen for what that person really need and wants.

Why is it so hard to listen?

  • There is so much going on in our minds.
  • So much noise and distraction.
  • We don’t have the mental and emotional space to truly listen to the other side.

How do we learn to listen?

  • Learn to listen to ourselves first.
  • Take a few moments of quiet just to pay attention to what is going on for you.
  • Listen to yourself to quiet your mind.
  • Pay attention to emotions and sensations … let them go …