Listeners Blog

Monthly Archives: December 2012


What makes listening so powerful?

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I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
— Ernest Hemingway

One of the great mysteries of this life is why more people don’t listen to each other. There is so much to learn when others share their thoughts and feelings and views of the world. But most of us are too distracted by outside stimuli or our own inner dialog to pay real attention to what other people have to say.

When something is in short supply, it immediately gains in value. In today’s world, people willing to take the time to listen carefully, fully, and non-judgmentally are extremely hard to find. Yet anyone who has received the precious gift of being heard completely will never forget the experience – it is as wonderful as it is rare.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. 
— Bryant H. McGill

Active, supportive listening is one of the greatest acts of compassion a human being can commit. It is not a random act of kindness. It is focused and intentional and creates a lasting good that perhaps only the speaker can truly understand. It is truly one of the most powerful forces on earth.

Too often we underestimate the power a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
— Leo Buscaglia



Listening List

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At this time of year, it seems everyone wants to look back and pick his or her annual Top 10 list. Movies, books, fashion trends, news stories, scandals – if there’s more than a dozen things in a category, someone somewhere is going to rank the Top 10.

A poll by the MLive Media Group in December 2011 found the most popular New Year’s resolution for 2012 was “to lose weight,” followed by “spend more time with family and friends,” “get out of debt,” and “quit smoking or drinking.” (On New Year’s Day, Time magazine included those among the top ten resolutions most likely to be broken!)

LINK: Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions 

A goodly percentage of people say they don’t make resolutions but still strive to make improvements in their lives or behavior on an ongoing basis.

Why not resolve to become a better listener in 2013?

Here are our Top 10 suggestions on where to start:

  1. Listen more, talk less.
  2. Be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.
  3. Don’t interrupt with your own story.
  4. Occasionally repeat or rephrase what you are hearing for the benefit of the speaker.
  5. Think before offering criticism or giving advice.
  6. Be open for what you may elicit – stay with it. Stay open.
  7. Listen to the silence between the words.
  8. Whatever is said, offer sincere thanks for the giver’s willingness to tell you the truth.
  9. Laugh when you see the humor….and you’re pretty sure the other person will too!
  10. Learn what to let go of and when.

What changes would you make to improve your own listening habits?

Let us know in the comments section.



Listen for the spirit of the season

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Have you ever noticed how much of the imagery around Christmas involves listening?

Think about your favorite Christmas songs and carols. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” “Angels We have Heard on High.” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Then there are all those bells ringing merrily and little drummer boys playing and many, many pipers piping.

So why is one of the most moving of all Christmas songs “Silent Night”? It could be that it captures the essence of engaged listening. After we have heard the message – whether it is a proclamation of a new age of peace on earth from a heavenly host or a conversation with someone who needs to talk through their issues – we need some space for reflection to process it and understand its meaning. The act of listening is powerful, and if we allow ourselves to truly hear, it can change us on a deeply spiritual level.

Take some quiet time to yourself this busy holiday season to reflect on the messages you’ve received this past year. Strive for deep understanding to prepare yourself to be an open and supportive listener in the coming new year.



Listening, in respect to disrespect

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When was the last time you had a serious conversation that ended in bad feelings for all parties? What do you remember most – what started the conflict or how it ended? Most of us tend to forget everything but the hurt.

Whether we start out to have a reasonable talk about a minor misunderstanding or a major discussion about a relationship, as soon as one party feels disrespected, meaningful communication is derailed. We may not even realize that we are making the other person feel discounted or diminished, because it is so easy to do, especially around sensitive topics. Then we are left to wonder why the conversation was so frustrating and nonproductive and how we can ever settle anything.

It’s quite possible to misunderstand what your choice of words or tone of voice can convey from another person’s perspective. For example, you may think that approaching a serious subject lightly can help diffuse the tension. But if it sounds like you aren’t taking the topic seriously, doesn’t that mean you are not taking the person seriously either? If someone doesn’t feel they are being taken seriously, there is little reason for them to invest in a conversation; they know they won’t be truly heard.

Developing your listening skills can go a long way in helping resolve conflicts. The first step is to pay attention to how you express yourself. Keep your comments respectful, and ask others to do the same.

If you do hear the conversation getting off track because someone feels disrespected, it’s time to stop and deal with the real issue at hand. Once mutual respect is restored, it will be much easier to resolve whatever conflict started the discussion in the first place. And you will have built a much stronger foundation for really listening to each other in the future.