Chua Wee Hian’s Notes and Quotes (May. 2019)

How To Speak So That People Want To Listen is the title of Julian Treasure’s TED TALK.

As a communicator, I was naturally gripped by the topic. I was astounded when I learnt that his five TED Talks on sound and communication were watched by over 50 million. In his 10-minute presentation, Treasure shares priceless gems on effective private and public speaking.

He begins complaining, (to my astonishment) by exposing speech presentation which he calls bad habits, namely:  gossip, judging, negativity, excuses, lying and dogma (insisting opinions = facts).

And if you think carefully, these habits reflect badly on the speaker’s character and credibility.  Those who hear him naturally disengage from him. They switch off. 

Treasure uses the acronym HAIL for messages that command attention and lead to understanding.







true in what is said




being yourself; be your word.




someone you can fully trust




wishing others well.

My mind races to Philip Brook a great preacher of the last century. He defined preaching as “truth through personality”. Audiences respond to a speaker who believes and practices what he preaches. Sadly, we are familiar with politicians who are great orators espousing noble causes, but their character and behaviour contradict them. No wonder so many distrust politicians.

Dan and Chip Heath, two brothers with several bestsellers to their names, list credibility as a major characteristic, as to why customers buy a certain branded product and why speakers are known for their integrity to transmit memorable words.

Back to Julian Treasure. His TED talk ends with his passionate appeal to cultivate and adopt the skill of listening.

Intrigued, I continued to google his writings and quotes I was introduced to fresh concepts like a soundscape, something alien to a generation that communicates through visuals and texting. I realise that I’ve been a poor listener.  I remember the numerous times when someone was speaking to me but because I was so keen to impress my views on them, I was not engaged in listening in order to understand. I was waiting for my turn to spout my opinions.

I thought of the kind and wise people who had impacted my life and ministry. I detected that the ones who listened to me with empathy and love. So, I naturally responded positively to them.  Stirred by the insights and findings of Treasure, I resolve to develop the vital skill of listening for myself.  Could we commend and encourage this to others?

The digital revolution has radically affected the ways we relate and communicate with one another.  Treasure quotes MIT Professor Sherry Turkle in his writings. I began reading some of her pertinent assessment of our present age. Please read, learn and inwardly digest her ‘prophetic’ and relevant words.

Ears are made not for hearing but for listening. Listening is an active skill, whereas hearing is passive. Listening is something that we have to work at – it’s a relationship of sound. And yet, it’s a skill tat none of us are taught.

Your ears are always on – you have no earlids. They work even if you are asleep.

Most people think listening is a linear relationship: I speak you listen. Actually, it’s a circle. Because the way you listen affects how I speak, and the way I speak, affects the way you listen.

As parents, we tend to be in the Tell rather than the Listening mode…. The de-valuing of listening is handed down from generation to generation. There are many children who don’t have the experience of being listened to by their parents.

Texting offers just the right amount of access, just the right amount of control. She is a modern Goldilocks: for her, texting puts people not too close, not too far, but at just the right distance. The world is now full of modern Goldilockses, people who take comfort in being in touch with a lot of people whom they also keep at bay.”

Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.

We seem to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things.

People are lonely. The network is seductive. But if we are always on, we may deny ourselves the rewards of solitude.[1]Book:  Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. By Sherry Turkle. SEE URL … Continue reading

Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.[2]SEE URL

You Become What You Behold

Pastor David Platt’s warning is necessary:

“You don’t become like Christ by beholding TV all week. And you don’t become like Christ by beholding the Internet all week. You don’t become like Christ when you fill your life with things of this world. You become like Christ when you behold the glory of Christ, and you expose your life, moment by moment, to his glory,” all through God’s revelation in Scripture.

Spiritual formation, to use the words of Elizabeth O’Connor, require both a journey inward and a journey outward. The journey inward is the journey to find the Christ dwelling within us. The journey outward is the journey to find the Christ dwelling among us and in the world.

The journey inward calls for the disciplines of solitude, silence, prayer, meditation, contemplation, and attentiveness to the movements of our heart. The journey outward in community and mission calls for the disciplines of care, compassion, witness, outreach, healing, accountability, and attentiveness to the movement of other people’s hearts. These two journeys belong together to strengthen each other and should never be separated. 

The journey inward precedes the journey outward, and the chronology is important. Spiritually, we need to know our selves and God in order to know other people. We need to love our selves and God in order to love each other. Communion with God precedes community with others and ministry in the world.[3]Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen SEE URL Henri Nouwen

If change and growth are not programmed into your spirituality, if there are not serious warnings about the blinding nature of fear and fanaticism, your religion will always end up worshipping the status quo and protecting your present ego position and personal advantage as if it were God.
The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future.[4]Book: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. by Richard Rohr  SEE URL


1 Book:  Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. By Sherry Turkle. SEE URL
3 Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen SEE URL
4 Book: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. by Richard Rohr  SEE URL

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