The ability to truly listen is rare. We are usually far too pre-occupied with the nonsense of our own thoughts about life to capture anything outside.

True listening is listening to other people generously. It involves, very simply, giving people the space to express themselves without judgment. If, when you are talking to someone, you have any kind of opinion about them, you won’t actually be listening to them when they speak. No, you will likely be listening to your opinion of them, instead.

How you listen to someone makes a huge difference to how they will behave when you are interacting with them. If you think, “Dave is awesome,” Dave will likely be more confident around you than if you think, “Dave is an idiot.”

So, if you seek change in someone, listen to who you would have them be. Forget how you have related to them in the past, listen for how great they are, and give them the space to be that.

If you’ve spent years harbouring a grudge against someone, sure, it will be a challenge to change your view of them. But if the relationship is important enough to you, such that you would love to relate to them differently – if they are your children, for example – instead of demanding that they change, change how you listen to them.

Very simply: put yourself in their shoes; see the world through their eyes; and see them as if they were whole, complete and perfect, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with them.

Be creative and flexible, and have fun with this. And if nothing changes, so be it. There is always another time.


Listen to the silence. That is where you will find yourself. Stop filling it up with noise.

© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 11:53 pm  Leave a Comment