Is anybody listening?

 listening blog photo“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.  The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

—Ralph Nichols

I once dated a CEO who was intrigued by my coaching work.  After asking what I charge, he, who could easily afford my services, responded, “I would never pay that.”  My fee was well within the respectable rates for coaches and lower than some other types of consultants’ rates.

I responded:  “Really?  What do you pay your attorney?”  He said “$350 an hour.”

Curious that he accepted that rate so matter-of-factly, I asked:  “How much does your lawyer listen to you and truly understand you during that hour?”  In an instant, my date “got” my value.

I get paid to listen professionally.  And, I often listen at a much deeper level than the typical conversational exchange, looking for cues to help me guide a client beyond a block towards a new outcome.

Yet, the type of listening most of us crave is on a day-to-day basis.  Increasingly, it seems with our fast-track methods of communicating via phone texts and voice mail messages that we have lost the art of truly listening.

People thrive when they are listened to for it helps validate our respect for them.  We want our mates, friends, acquaintances and colleagues to see who we are in the moment —through our eyes not their agendas.

When we are not held in another’s presence, and listened to with care, we often feel disconnected.   It takes reciprocity to listen well, where each person has a chance to be heard, uninterrupted.

One of the skills I learned in marriage counseling, and later during my certification for a relationship coach training class, is “mirroring.”  Through a daily check-in, each person is given 15 minutes to speak uninterrupted by the other.  At the end of the 15 minutes, the person listening mirrors back what he or she heard from the partner talking, without giving advice or sharing an opinion.  Then, they swap roles.

Often, a lot is learned in those 15 minutes by stretching beyond our will, desires or thoughts to truly see and hear another.   It takes focus and discipline to listen without interrupting or thinking about what we will say next (as we won’t be saying anything as this is not a time for feedback).

To learn how to be a better listener, check out this excellent article from Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D. on The Top 5 Personal Strengths that Support Effective Listening.

It has been said that the greatest gift we can give our children is our presence, not presents.  Try giving that same gift to all of those you care about and make time to truly listen.


1.   I allow myself to listen with curiosity of another’s worldview without imposing my own agenda.

2.    I allow myself to listen with care and empathy.

3.  I allow myself to focus exclusively on listening and “seeing” the person speaking—observing beyond words the non-verbal messages of tone, posture, facial expressions and hand gestures.


Beth Shedd’s early spring photo from Wellesley’s Lake Waban shows its mirror-like beauty.  Like a good listener, when the lake is perfectly still, its reflective properties are the greatest.



…BUY A SIX-PACK of coaching sessions and save considerably.  Call Gail today to learn more at 978-325-1911.  Or, email her at


… BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND, Gail is now scheduling her INNOVATIVE COACH WALKING SESSIONS for stepping into a new life or dream.

Clients often gain new insights or experience “ah-ah” moments when coached while moving.

This year Gail will be offering her outside coaching sessions in Newburyport, along the banks of the Merrimack River, or in Newbury at The Plum Island Refuge.  Call today to schedule an appointment, as available time slots are limited.


Share this post

  • Donna says:

    Great post! To be really listened to in the fast paced society we experience today is rare. And to listen well, is a study in patience. Seems simple, but hard to master.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thanks, Donna…and I appreciate you elaborating on the patience it takes to truly listen well to another. Gail

  • Dick Joseph says:

    Great message, Gail!

    You are a great listener and you hear what is not said, which is a gift that most people do not have.

    Continue the great work!

  • Andrea says:

    Gail I love this post! It reminds me of my Dad, who used to tell me that people would think and speak very highly of him simply because he listened to them. He told me that these people barely knew anything about him and praised him because they felt so great being heard. Thanks for reminding me of his “secret” gift 🙂

  • Maria says:

    Hi Gail –
    Another awesome blog. Just today one of the kindergartener’s was trying to tell me about his dog, but I told him that I could not listen to him because we were getting ready for a lesson. I did let him know that he could tell me later. Later came and he tried to tell me about his dog. Even though it was still not the time to talk, I did listen. Children need to know, especially in today’s world that they are being heard. They look up to us and we need to set the example, just like the woman who spoke about her father.


    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Maria: Great story. Thanks for sharing. If more children felt ‘listened’ to and ‘held’ by our presence, more kids would grow up feeling validated and live in the world with a greater sense of self-esteem. You must be an amazing teacher! Gail

  • >