How to listen

Each of us YEARNS to be heard. It is a common human desire to be not only listened to, but to be heard. Many times, from a customer service perspective, frustrated customers may simply wish to feel heard when something goes against their expectations. When someone blows us off, we get even angrier.

That said, if we all just spoke into the void, who would listen? Where would those yearnings to be heard find purchase? Listening is a vital aspect of not only learning, but of growth as an individual.

If listening is essential to growth, why is this seemingly easy task one of the most difficult skills we can truly master as we make our way through this lifetime? How can we hone this skill? As is true with most things, mindfulness, awareness and practice. …Lots of practice.

“How do I listen to others? As if everyone were my Master speaking to me His cherished last words.” ~ Hafiz

There’s a saying: that in order to learn, we must listen more and to speak less. The logic being two ears and one mouth dictates the ratio of listening to speaking. Some of our lessons, therefore, come from other people, to whom we must listen.

When I hear the same sentiment coming from two or more people within a short amount of time, I realize that I am supposed to be Getting a Message. Has this been your experience?

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.” ~ Albert Guinon

I have been guilty of this transgression. Irish lineage and my natural tendencies have conspired to make me a chatterbox. Birth order (oldest of three) and general Know-It-All-ness gave me a handicap of presuming that I already knew most answers.

Life and its attendant experiences have trained me to listen. When we are busy talking, we cannot hear. When we formulate our response to what we think is being said instead of what is actually being said, miscommunication and [possibly] misery may follow.

To be most effective, it is essential that we quiet our inner dialogue and focus on what the other is saying.

“Listening looks easy, but it’s not simple. Every head is a world.”- Cuban Proverb

When I was a little kid, I can remember looking out the window of our family car as we made our way along the interstate during family trips. As I would watch other cars and trucks pass, I can remember thinking that each vehicle represented another family; another reality, distinct and different from mine.

In a similar fashion every person we meet has an entirely different perspective, based upon his or her experiences to date. Their lives inform their decisions, their opinions and of course, their words. Their perspectives add to our experience. We must learn to sift and identify the wisdom present within each other.

When we take the time to truly listen to others, we can expand our own worlds.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~ Karl Menninger

Expansion is the underpinning of the universe, really. Although there is an ebb and flow to all natural patterns, the cumulative effect is one of forward progression. Listening generates the same kind of “social physics” in my opinion. When we are around people who listen to us, we are encouraged to explore our inner landscape and to develop the vision we find within. By speaking these findings aloud, we give form and shape to our ideas.

I was able to actually witness this power earlier this week, when a friend gave voice to a dream she had had percolating in her mind. Although this idea had been sifting in her head for quite some time, speaking it aloud (and in the presence of others) gave her idea a concrete quality.

It’s a gift to be able to listen. It costs nothing, but is of course, priceless. Has there been a time in your life when someone really HEARD you? How did it make a difference in your life?


Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.


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