Listening | People Skills for UX


In May, Rosenfeld Media will be unravelling the great mystery of how to better understand, collaborate with, and motivate the people who are integral to any great user experience. Together with an industry expert, I’ll be delving into the world of Listening. Here’s a short introduction to the topic, taken from Sound Business.

“While hearing is a physical/electromechanical process, listening is our relationship with sound; it is an active choice and a skill. It’s the art of perceiving and interpreting the sound that we experience in every moment of our lives. It’s a major part of our engagement with reality, a prime sensory process connecting us with and locating us in the world around us. It’s also probably the most important activity in our relationships, where we all need to feel heard, understood and valued – not of which can happen if we are not listened to.

Sadly, as Hemingway said: “Most people never listen.” We discuss the reasons why we humans have become so ocular at the start of Part 2, where we examine the ways in which sound affects us all (whether we are conscious about it or not). Here we’ll consider the process of listening and then discuss some tools, practises and concepts that can help us to become more conscious in our listening. Conscious listening is a new and powerful experience for most people, opening up a whole dimension of reality that has been absent, but not missed – a little like turning up the colour on a screen that has always shown black and white. Usually I find that the very realisation that we have been unconscious in our listening is in itself transformative and the ear suddenly open. If, after you read this book, you find yourself grumbling about chiller cabinets in supermarkets or coffee machines in restaurants, be happy that you are experiencing the world more vividly than before! As long as you are conscious of sound, you have a choice to do something about it – and if that means moving away from unpleasant noise, then your wellbeing will be improved as a result.”

Evelyn Glennie


I was honoured to speak to Dame Evelyn Glennie for this week’s Sound Affects podcast.

Evelyn is an award winning percussionist, and she is also profoundly deaf. She performs worldwide; her incredible awareness of vibration allowing her to literally touch the sound. Evelyn spoke to me about how losing her hearing made her a better listener.

Listen to the episode here.

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