I Just Want To Be Heard

by Lance Ekum on · 103 comments

y2.d7 | that edit girl

Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” ~ Stephen Covey

"Are you listening to me?"

"Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"Are you really listening to me?"

“Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.” ~ Turkish Proverb

How well do you understand, before you speak?

A Story

This past weekend, my wife and I organized and ran a basketball tournament, with a total of 64 teams visiting our gyms over the course of two days.  (well…the honest answer is that mostly my wife, Lora, organized it…and everything came together in really amazing ways!).   And she came up with the great (well…in whose eyes!?!?) way of fielding everything that came up over the weekend.  She would take on any compliments and kind words.  I would take care of any and all complaints.  (wait…who got the better deal here???)

Really, everything ran smoothly over the weekend (see, that kept HER busy – graciously accepting compliments!!)

Of course, with the sheer number of people that crossed through our doors, the weekend was not incident free.  While everything that came up was minor, it also just really highlighted something very important.

"I just want to be heard and valued".

One particular incident involving a coach and a referee involved me "getting involved" (…that complaint department duty I took on!!).  I made it a point to take time alone with the coach, and with the referee – to really understand their points.  And I also took time to bring everyone together to share.  After our group meeting, I made a point of again talking to each party individually – to one more time, make it clear that their input was valued, and their concerns being heard. 

I chose to listen impartially to each person.  I chose to reconnect with these same persons again, and to listen one more time.

And I chose to reply with my own thoughts only after knowing that everyone had fully shared their views (and when I was asked for my thoughts). 

I share this, because it demonstrates, very clearly, the importance of listening, or perhaps even more than that – of understanding (both spoken word and non-spoken word).

“The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

While I could certainly not fully understand either of these men in the few minutes we had together, I could seek to understand through their words, their actions, their non-verbal signs.  In doing that, and in respecting them – I created a place of open dialogue.  In that mutual respect, everyone left our "meeting", with an understanding that they were valued – and with a positive experience even in light of this "issue".

…by my open and genuine listening to them…


So, think about this?  How are you doing at really listening?  Are you seeking to understand BEFORE you seek to be understood. 

If we have not taken the time to honestly and genuinely understand, rarely will we come close to "getting it right" on what someone else is thinking (and to a greater extent – feeling).

Perhaps an even bigger part of this is how we choose to value the persons with whom we come in contact with.  By listening, by showing we care, by seeking to understand first – we touch upon the soul of another being.  We touch upon the soul, by valuing each person. 

There is no way we can even begin to understand the path that has brought someone to where they are today – just by making some generalizations. 

There is no way we can know that his mother just passed away, after a long battle with cancer.

There is no way we can know that her child has been sick, and she is worried.

There is no way we can know that he just celebrated his granddaughter's first birthday.

There is no way we can know that she is just starting down the road of an unplanned pregnancy.

There is no way we can know that his car needs major repairs, and he's been living paycheck to paycheck.

There is no way we can know that she just was accepted into the college of her choice.

There is no way we can know that he still faces the demons that haunt him from childhood abuse.

There is no way we can know that she is being re-united with her birth mother after twenty years.

Seek first to understand…

And we may or may not reach these deeper levels.  That's all okay.  In valuing another, we touch upon the human condition, that which connects all of us.  This is so much more than race, creed, social standing, etc.  This is about our humanity – about the value of human life.  Not just mere existence, but the depths of our purpose, our life direction, our need for love…

This is also part of the journey for each of us – for me, for you.  I am a work in progress – sometimes really "getting" this, and other times completely missing these moments to "understand".

As you continue on YOUR journey, may you continue to create deeper bonds as you seek also to more fully understand those who travel this path with you.

Everyone matters.

You matter.

You are valued. 

…and life is a great adventure…

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Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Hay February 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I really enjoyed this, Lance. Even though healing and my connection with spirit gives me insights into my clients, I have to remember to listen to and see those closest to me. The truth is never too far away. At some level we record every moment/life accurately, but often we’re more comfortable living with illusions. This is powerful – “By listening, by showing we care, by seeking to understand first – we touch upon the soul of another being.” Love and peace, Simon.
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Lance February 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Ahhh…you touch upon something that is so easily overlooked – those people closest to us. I know that I sometimes “miss the boat” where it has even deeper meaning. So much to really let soak in, just in this one concept of this…those closest to us…

Much love,


Stacey February 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Lance, this is so deeply touching and filled with truth!! I was just talking about this the other day. I sense that most people feel that they are not being heard, really heard. I think that this is the root of much of our societies unbalance. We deeply want to be listened to. And I think that everyone is fighting for each one of their words, because they believe that is what being listened to is, someone listening to the words they are saying. I feel that truely being listened to is when someone Feels what you are saying. They FEEL you through what you are trying to convey. You illustrated this so beautifully here.
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Lance February 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Oh, I agree so deeply with all of this. If we (I) can just care more fully – in each moment – and give full attention to that moment – we (I) honor the soul of another…

And in that honoring, we each feel more valued, more “heard”, more true to ourselves…

Stacey, as I read this right now…I am just letting your words reach my soul…to that place where I do feel your presence, your being – contained within…


Leah McClellan February 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Lance, This is great. Listening and understanding are the most important things we can offer to anyone, in any situation, especially before we speak (and even before we comment on a blog post! I try to make sure I’ve read properly before commenting to make sure I’ve understood if it’s something complicated).

I’ve read a lot of different blog posts and articles in the last week or so about love, and a few were about ways of showing love to people in such a way that they feel loved. I had some thoughts but I didn’t write anything on the subject–I’ll save it for another time. But for me, it’s not about chocolate or cards or doing something for me or remembering an anniversary or anything except listening, understanding, asking questions if you don’t, not assuming things, not coming to quick conclusions, not putting me in a box (that’s usually all wrong) and stuff like that. It’s all about listening, as you say, and listening impartially (and ignoring the judgments or quick conclusions our little brains often make).

I’m not always the best listener I’d like to be, but it sure is my goal. Thanks for such an important reminder. Understanding is the basis of caring, compassion, and love of all sorts, and that requires truly listening, so someone can be truly heard.
Leah McClellan´s Last Fabulous Post ..What Moral Compass Do You FollowMy Profile


Lance February 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

While the ideas of gifts can be a token sign of love – it’s really the things we do day in and day out that truly shine love. And I *lovc* that you have understanding in there. Because when we really make time to understand another person – it just shines to how much we value them and their gifts that they share.

It’s something that continues to be a journey for me, too.

Leah, thank you so much for all that you have shared – and for so honestly and openly putting “you” out there…


Lynn February 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Lance – I can imagine that you did take time to listen and understand at the game when there was conflict. Feeling discounted is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone and you are right, it is so important to make sure people are heard and valued.
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Lance February 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Thank you.

While I may have certainly had some pre-conceived thoughts – in this moment, I chose to set those aside, and to just listen. and what I really found was that this was a moment where there just wasn’t a “right” answer. And it was all okay…because each person felt valued…


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} February 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Dearest lance,
What a beautiful thought and story this is. I totally get the listening, understanding and then speaking part. Many a times our connections our relationships suffer the brunt of our untamed tongues.
As a therapist, we are taught to listen, to understand…..but still I know many who cant. And I know how much I now appreciate this subtle yet powerful lesson of listening and understanding.
Being heard is important, but not at the cost of hurting or belittling someone for selfish gain. When we think, when we listen when we understand…..worlds open up, new understandings emerge and make each person we come across, part of us. There is then no room for hurting….only loving..right?
Thank you fro sharing your lovely thoughts here Lance! By the by, I think you got the “right” end of the deal handling complaints 😉 I’m all pro woman…so Your wife gets all the compliments any way 🙂
Much love,
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:17 am

YES!! When we more deeply understand…love DOES open up! And that connection between us (between all of us) just feels even more bonding…

And…my wife…she deserves all the compliments…for the time and effort she put in to make this happen!!

Love, love, love,


Evita February 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Hi Lance

What a great topic to bring to more light! Yes, I totally agree about the importance of being heard and of also being a conscious listener.

In our hectic society today it seems no one really wants to take the time to “really listen”. The kind, but empty “how are you?” – “good” responses I think are a big indication. Most of us would love to open up more, but we don’t dare show that kind of vulnerability often I think, out of fear of not being really listened to, or valued, or heard, or respected for what we have to say, what is important to us.

We really never know where the other person may be coming from, so may we indeed always stay conscious of being present and conscious listeners, for we just never know when that alone may change someone’s life.
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