Are you still, listening?


How can you tell when someone is really listening? How do you show that you are listening?


“It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”



One step we often skip over in the midst of a difficult conversation, is acknowledgment. This serves as a kind of bridge or a stepping stone between people who disagree or don’t understand each other – yet.

When something sets you off, raises your hackles, or you feel the urge to explain or disagree, it’s a good time to pause and acknowledge what you’ve heard.

Acknowledgment isn’t the same as agreement.

It’s defined as ‘the action of showing that one has noticed someone’. It shows that you’ve actually listened to what the other person said, or better yet, that you’ve listened not just to the words, but to the feelings behind the words. Perhaps you’ll even start to notice their underlying values.
This is listening to understand.




“When you talk, you are only repeating 

what you already know.” 





Try this.

Next time you find yourself in a debate, discussion, or disagreement, make it a rule for yourself that you will first restate the other person’s viewpoint, before you reply, retort, or voice your own ideas.


Make a few minutes today for this ‘Do-over’ exercise:

Think of a difficult conversation you had that went badly.  It could be something recent, or an older exchange that still bothers you. Recall how the conversation went, how you felt, what you both said.

Now rewrite that conversation, pausing before expressing your point of view.

Into that pause, write your acknowledgment of what the other person was saying, feeling, and believing – even if you didn’t quite understand or agree with it.

Write out the new version of the conversation. What do you think? Does this effort change the tone, the heat, or even the outcome?



“But if you listen, you may learn something new.”





Images: Atelier-Musée Zadkine, Paris; The Noguchi Museum, Long Island City, Queens; Secretaría de Educación Pública, México D.F.
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