“the”Truth About Listening or Not Listening

Friends, Clients, and Family, lend ME your ears…I want to tell you something about listening!


Listening is the communicative act that we will participate in the most – yet it is the one that we are taught the least. You will learn more about effective writing and speaking than you will ever learn about effective listening. Let’s start with the basics – the difference between listening and hearing. Listening is an active choice and hearing is a passive behavior.  We often get lulled into using “hearing” and “listening” interchangeably, as if they are the same thing – they are not! The often over quoted “He/She just wants to be heard” is incorrect – any animal with the ability to hear can hear us. We want more than to be heard – we want someone to LISTEN to us.  


Listening is a process – which means that there are steps involved that must be present in order for the outcome (or the behavior) to be determined listening.  Okay so what are the steps in the process of listening?

  1. Being aware that a message is coming your way –  We don’t generally listen to messages that we are unaware of…
  2. Paying attention to the message that is coming your way Let’s be honest here, are you listening to messages that you aren’t paying attention to??Image
  3. Understanding the message that is coming your way – When we can no longer understand a message, we no longer listen to it (hopefully we ask for clarification and receive a brand new message that we do understand!)Image
  4. Responding to the message that came your way-  This is a crucial step, not for the listener so much but for the speaker. This is “that moment” when you let the speaker know that you are still with them with a simple nod of the head, or “uh huh” or any facial expression that indicates you are getting the message (and hopefully you mean it!!)Image
  5. Remembering the message that came your way And this is the test…Can you remember the main point of the message, if not…then you weren’t listening!

Sometimes when I have discussions with clients or students, I become painfully aware that they are not listening – even though they protest and can repeat the words that I said, when it comes to remembering the main point of the conversation — they are clueless. I don’t get too upset when this happens because listening is hard to do and honestly, no one ever really taught them how to listen effectively (actually most of learn ineffective listening skills) – so why would I expect them to know how?

“the” Truth about listening is that it is a process and all of the steps in the process must be present in order for the behavior to truly be listening. When one of the steps is missing in the process…you’re simply not listening!!

I spend a great amount of time teaching effective listening skills. The best part of teaching these skills is getting the feedback that relationships have changed and individuals feel acknowledged.

“Listening is the single most important way that we have to let others know that they exist” – DE 

Knowing that effective listening is an important part of effective communication will also lead you to effective relationships!

Open Soul Communication

Effective Communication for Effective Relationships

“98% of Success is Support…I’ve got your back”-DE©



Authentically You…What does that mean?

I was at a conference this week and during a breakout session the question of authenticity came up. We were asked when could we be authentically ourselves. Uhhh… when can we not?  During the open discussion, most of the attendees seemed to agree that we are lacking in relationships and opportunities where we can be authentic. I stood up and openly disagreed – and caught some flack for that.

Authentic implies that the contents of the thing in question correspond to the facts and are not imaginary.


Authentic Nature by Andre Wagner

My position is that being authentic doesn’t rest in a single experience or a single representation of your self. If you are choosing to display, share, or hide a part of you – then the act and process of making that choice is authentically you. Authenticity is multi-faceted…it is a system of parts all related to create a unique whole (in this case, a unique YOU!).

How many parts of you make the whole authentic you? Who gets to see or experience all of those parts? Why do we judge the “whole you” based on a small limited experienced part of you?


Communicating who you are is not always a complete reflection of all that you are. So this brings me to the notion of “being or acting fake.” I cringe when my students and clients refer to someone as being or acting fake. Taking this position implies that you KNOW all that there is to know about someone. How can this ever be possible? Our perception of others is rooted in the choices we make. We choose what we want to pay attention to – just like we get to choose which part of our authentic self we want to share with others.

There is a time and place for everything that you want to be. When I work students and clients, I choose which part of my authentic self to share with them and the same is true for when I work with my colleagues and spend time with friends and family. In each opportunity and relationship I am authentic and the beauty of all of this is that I get to define what that means for me.

Back to the conference…

I was openly challenged for my position and referred to as having an oppressed mind that is in the hand of my oppressors.  Meaning that I am somehow letting “the system” define me and it is my duty (from their perspective) to behave in a way that they deemed authentic. Note to those individuals: THIS IS OPPRESSIVE! For me to stand up and disagree (by invitation) with the message being shared is authentically me.

Choosing to be all that you want to be is authentically you – who else would you be?

How your choices are communicated is also authentically you.

The question “Who are you?” can be read as “Who am I at this time?”

And if you’re concerned with whether you’re authentic or not…my position is that you are always authentically you!


Open Soul Communication

Effective Communication for Effective Relationships

“98% of Success is Support…I’ve got you’re back!” © -DE

Picture by Andre Wagner


Scared that I am Alone

ImageI met with a young man yesterday that wanted guidance in defining his pathway in life. He had made many attempts to go to college only to drop out over and over again. He had experienced an illness early in life that forced him to miss a great deal of school. I should mention that this young man is very bright and so much of his identity is tied to his intellect and being “the smartest kid in school.” Needless to say he was devastated when he lost that status due to the illness. Thus his relationship with school went from loving and supportive to hateful and judgmental.  Now that he is 22 years old, his relationship with school hasn’t changed which is why he participates in this approach-avoidance pattern with college.

ImageI asked this young man to look at all of his relationships – including the relationship with himself – and tell me what he sees and how he felt. He revealed that his mother worked a great deal when he was young and he felt alone, being teased for being “the smartest boy in school” made him feel alone, when he got sick he felt alone, when he lost his status at school he felt alone,  watching his friends and roommates succeed in college makes him feel alone, starting and stopping college makes him feel alone, and accepting that his mother is terminally ill makes him feel alone. Most importantly, the relationship with himself lacked love. He didn’t know how to tell the people around him that he was scared and lonely and didn’t understand why it was important to share how he was feeling.  

How many of us are afraid to share that we feel alone?

Communicating what we feel and why we are feeling that way creates a pathway to healing wounds that have the potential to destroy everything we want for ourselves.

During his Open Soul Session, this young man allowed himself to be honest about his feelings and shed tears that he stuffed for 10 years. His fear began to subside and he understood that he was no longer alone.   

“98% of Success is Support…I’ve got your back!”-DE ©

Open Soul Communication