So after I read all about listening with my ears, and watched all these TedTalks, I moved right into listening my eyes, or learning the subtle art of reading body language and emotions. Two books have been helping with that, Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman and What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro.
Both of these authors/researchers believe that while NOTICING the emotion or the unconscious signs are essential to getting a good read on people, or "hearing" what they are "telling" you, it is even MORE important to do follow up.
So don't just see someone hunch their shoulders and assume, "they are feeling uncomfortable!" when it could be any number of things: a stomach ache, cold or other physical discomfort. They could feel threatened or vulnerable. Or sad. Or in a position of weakness, etc.
Back to Julian Treasure's RASA technique, this pertains to #3--S-- as in "So...."
Imagine that you are at a get together and you see your friend across the room. Her brow is furrowed, Her shoulders are almost up to her ears. You assume at first the she's stressed, and clearly not having a good time. So you go talk to her. After the initial pleasantries you get to the meat of the conversation and she admits...
A: "I feel so out of control. I just don't know what I'm doing with my life anymore."
B: "In what ways particulary do you feel out of control?"
A: "I don't know just everything. Like work. They ask way too much from me and I just can't work 100 hours a week! I barely have any time to sleep and eat and bathe."
B: "So...you need a different job that allows you more freedom to enjoy your life?"
and so on. If you hadn't talked to your friend at all, but saw the symptoms of stress you would ASSUME that she just hated the party, wanted to be somewhere else, was stressed but about home life, a fight with her sweetie, conflict with another friend...possibly even guessing correctly that it was work bringing her down. But you wouldn't know for sure unless you asked.
Listen. Ask. Listen. Repeat.