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,
Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s Last Fabulous Post ..Love Is…Ever PresentMy Profile


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.
Evita´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to Use Spirituality to Embrace More of Our HumanityMy Profile


Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:19 am

Mmmm…vulnerability (coupled with the “rush” that society, in a general sense, has created). It’s almost like a double-edged sword…

And yet there is so much more than just what “meets the eye”. And when we connect with that, we create something very special…

Evita, in our conversations…I find that you deeply “get” this…and it’s beautiful…


Ewa February 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm

What a timely post, Lance.
I hope I am a decent listener. I hope I will become better at it. I am working on it.
I am a firm believer in communication but often find myself hearing only silence. Maybe even in silence there are hidden messages. I just don’t know how to listen to those.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:22 am

…it’s a journey for all of us…

Yes, in that silence…there is just so much more. How do we “see” that, though? Perhaps it’s in really putting ourselves in another’s shoes (well…not literally!!). Maybe in feeling that the silence is really words that speak from the soul…unheard words, yet whisperings and yearnings for this purpose and meaning in life…


Clearly Composed February 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I LOVE this post, Lance! I was just talking with a friend the other day and we were discussing how many times we just wanted to be heard and instead were met with judgment and/or advice. One of the best gifts we can give to others is to simply say…I get what you are saying. I understand. Beats recycled advice any day of the week and allows others to be fully expressed. I really like how you shared this topic with such warmth and care. Well done, my friend. 🙂
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:24 am

It’s so easy to jump in and “solve” someone else’s “problem”. And that’s not what is wanted at all. (this is one I’m still working on…)

By lending a supportive, caring, loving ear (and heart) – we connect with something more deeply, with the soul of another…

Big hugs,


Caroline February 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Well when you put it that way… 😉 You are so right, there is so much that we don’t understand. I tend to make hasty judgments, especially if I have “stuff” going on in my life. We all carry burdens…it’s a matter of respecting each other and listening.

Wonderful and thoughtful post.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

Ahhh…that “stuff” in our own lives, that seeps into our own conversations with others. And not that this is bad (it’s not), it is perhaps in choosing the “right” time to speak and the “right” time to listen…

So, so good having you here…


rob white February 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

Yes indeed, Lance. Being ‘a listening’ is a great gift to humanity. Most folks are too busy talking. Those who deeply understand, don’t talk — those who are too concerned with looking good and being right never really understand. Deep listening is peace and power in action.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

Love your last line: “Deep listening is peace and power in action.”

And the thing is, it might not look like action, yet it so is….


Angelia Sims Hardy February 16, 2011 at 7:46 am

Wonderful Lance! I “hear” you. 🙂

What an amazing event you and Lora took on. I know you made so many teams, and kids happy. It’s nice that each side has a say. Great life learning examples all around.

I need to listen more. I tend to jump to conclusions in my head. I think I will retire the mind trampoline and keep my thoughts on the ground.

Great pics, and video!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

This was one of those moments – when I received the call (on my walkie talkie…looking all official!!) – where I just didn’t want to be there. I tend to not like conflict. Yet, in being there – while there were some tense moments – I stepped away at the end feeling good about where we all were. The coach, as well, made a point of finding me after the tournament was done – to express his happiness with how the tournament was run (…okay, THAT credit goes to my wife!!). I’m sure that visit from him was directly related to our time together in that moment of conflict, and how he felt valued….

“Mind trampoline” –> I love it!!! (well, the description of how our mind works sometimes, anyway)

Have a super day!


Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord February 16, 2011 at 10:10 am

Lance, this is such a powerful post, and one that resonates deeply with me. Because sometimes I listen really well — and seek to understand before being understood — and other times I do not. And I witness both this ability and lack thereof in those around me, which is all reflection. I imagine you would EXCEL at this, so it’s no surprise everyone involved in that “issue” at the game felt valued. You do that, Lance. You make people feel valuable. It’s one of your many gifts.

I have a friend who is really good at (what we call) making space for me to share what I’m about. Like Evita said, sometimes in our hustle and bustle, “must protect myself from being perceived as weak or undesirable” world, we don’t always feel safe to share. “How are you?” “Good.” “Tell me more…” It’s a gift to be able to draw people out, and then to (as your quotes so awesomely said) understand them through not only what is shared, but what is not.

Loving you lots, Lance! Wishing you a beautiful day ~ Megan
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:43 am

I first just want to share with you how I believe you listen so, so well. I recall one particular conversation we had (well…there have been many which feel this way…) and I felt so completely “heard”. What did that mean to me? Megan – it touched so fully upon the caring friendship and love that I feel from you (always). And it just made this already wonderful connection with you so much deeper and more heart-focused. And…it felt like I mattered, no matter what it was I was sharing.

So, thank you so, so much for all you’ve said here. Really, this is you – speaking from a place where you “live”…

Love always and forever,


Tess The Bold Life February 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

If we can all take care of our little space in the Universe, we encounter in our daily lives, with your examples, there would be more love, peace and harmony in the world. I only wish it wouldn’t have taken so long to be a good listener with my adult kids. LOL It’s still very very very tempting to open my mouth when I shouldn’t! My ego just wants to grab me by my collar and push me to be in charge of the world. ;O) Thanks for the beauty of your words.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

…listening to our kids…now that IS a challenging one!! (I know!!)

That role of parent – it is one which takes us on quite a ride, including that place where we stop and listen to those we’ve raised…


Giulietta Nardone February 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

Hi Lance,

About 15+ years ago I took a Listening Class that changed my life! I’ve since offered one in my town and will do so again this summer.

Active listening is a skill that needs to be pursued and practiced. We are not taught to listen or be listened to. Instead, we pre-judge based on all sorts of stereotypes and inner dialogues.

Finding another person’s truth has been turned into something scary.

Many issues between folks can be solved if listening skills are employed.

Even around the world! Not showing humanity to each other and bombing/chest pounding instead creates all sorts of hell on Earth. Why don’t we try listening for a change?

parents to kids, employers to employees, spouses to each other. governments to people. people to nature and their own hearts.

An important topic. Thx, Giulietta

p.s. my cats are great listeners …
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm

How very, very awesome – you, and a listening class!! What a gift that is…what a gift YOU are!

Hell on earth…heaven on earth. Both are possible, and what a shift if we can move more toward understanding (real understanding), care, and love.

Giulietta, thank you so, so much for being here – and for the beautiful gifts you bring to this world.

Much love,
P.S. our cat is a pretty great listener too…perhaps we can learn lots by observing our pets…


The Exception February 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

This is an amazing lesson to learn – and for me, at least, it is one that I have had to re learn a few times. I spent years being a listener and impartial… and then I spent years over talking because the more I wasn’t heard, the more I would talk. I am now in the process of learning to listen again – to not talk – I am learning the power of my own voice and my own silence!
So often we don’t need another person to solve something or make it better – we need someone to listen to our experience; to find the time to hear our story… and then the situation defuses or we feel so much better!
Great post Lance


Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm

The Exception,
Mmmm….I love that – the power of our voice, and the power of our silence. So, so true.

And that’s it – just the sharing of our own stories, that can make all the difference…not to be judged, just heard…


Tim February 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm


Great post. You are reminding me that perhaps one of the best gifts we can give someone else is our gift of listening. It reminds me of a group of people I used to eat lunch with at a previous job. Usually it was 1 or 2 people that dominated those lunchtime conversations. They were good people, but were not always the best listeners. There were so many times I wanted to talk more and add to the discussion, but did not feel acknowledged or listened to very often. I think it would be great if all of us, myself included, would become more aware of the quiet people and the people that would like to be heard more often. Lance, great post with some great examples of listening. Thanks!


Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

That’s a great example you’ve shared – how easy it is to be drowned out by others. And the thing is, when that happens, it’s very possible the person dominating the conversation isn’t even aware of it.

So, perhaps that’s a sign that listening is something we could all work on – to just even be more cognizant of those around us, aware of what might be there…

Thanks so much for sharing this example – it’s such a great point for all of us to remember.


Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker February 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Lance, what a beautiful, wonderful, glorious message to read today. Thank you. The video reminds me of my 3 trips to India. What a learning adventure each of those trips was. Each trip taught me more about a world so different than mine and also taught me valuable lessons about myself.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I can only imagine how wonderful and valuable these trips to India were for you. Our world is filled with so many unique places and peoples – and the more we interact – the more we can become open to others, and to more fully understanding our fellow human being.


Jody - Fit at 53 February 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Such an important point to make Lance… I think many people feel they listen but maybe not “active” listening. I try but I know when I am busy or preoccupied, I don’t put my all into that active listening.. thx for sharing & making us think AND listen!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Right – how fully are we listening. Or are we listening, while other “thoughts” are floating around in our brains?? So, so true…


Julie February 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

We’re always in such a rush… And look what we miss: friendship, connection, communion, understanding, acceptance (even when there isn’t agreement)… Without listening, *real* listening, none of these things can exist in full bloom. For such a small effort, we could gain so much!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Listening, real listening, it’s not something that’s going to take all our time. Yet – we as a society seem to think that this “time” it will take – it’s just too valuable to give to deeper understanding. And when we as a society do that, we miss out on those deeper and more meaningful relationships…

Julie, know that I just see within you such a beautiful soul…and that’s in part because of the wonderful listening I have experienced by you…


Jean Burman February 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Listening [and hearing] is an ability not everyone has. You Lance are the exeption. You read through the words to the source… even at a distance.

My 95 year old aunt used to say of people “you have to follow them home” What she meant of course was… you had to understand their situation… understand what ails and worries them…. learn what are the circumstances of their life… before you can understand why they do what they do.

I get where she was coming from. And I loved the simple way she said it. Being able to “tune in” to other people… to really listen [and hear] is the essential first step.

Another wonderful thought provoking post Lance… [I hear you!] Thank you again… 🙂
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

You are so, so sweet (hugs!)…

“Follow them home”…I really love that! That home in the soul of a person, what a beautiful place. And yet, how often do we really get there?

Jean – your words always have a way of landing upon my heart – and they have again today. I’m touched by these thoughts, and by your wonderful and caring sincerity…


Jannie Funster February 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

This is really excellent, Lance.

I too find there are so many lessons in listening. It grows us in understanding and character.

And major hats off to you both for pulling off such a worthy event! I think you’d be a great uy to complain to, if ever I had a complaint!!

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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Thanks!!! This was a MAJOR undertaking…and our third year of running the tournament. It’s actually become easier each year…although we can still never predict these moments like this that will come up.

You know what…Lora seemed to think I was the “right” person, too, for the complaint department!!!

X’s and O’s


Audra Krell February 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I really like all the “there is no way we can know” examples. It’s always best to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume the best about people. I know that’s how I want to be treated. Another good one Lance, thanks!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I”m not sure if you’re familiar with Chick-Fil-A – they have a video which highlights something very similar to these “there is no way to know” thoughts. Really, a well-done video.

And that’s it – we just never do know the steps that has led another to where they are today.

Audra, well…I happen to know from personal experience…that you are a wonderful, caring, sweet listener – and it just makes me that much more grateful for our friendship…


Emergefit February 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Listening is an art, and one worth learning. Like all art, it takes practice to get good, and desire to initiate the practices. I’m lucky to be in a line of work where listening — understanding, empathizing is something I get to to all day long. Thus, my opportunity to practice has been ever-present, and useful in developing my art.

Listening is actually one of the things I believe I do well in life. I am reminded of the talking stick used by the Plains Indians. It’s not so much about whomever has the sticks gets to talk; it’s about LISTENING to whomever is holding the stick. Indeed.

Thank you S
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

That’s really great – you work in a profession that affords you the opportunity to interact, to care, to listen… And in that, I am sure you have touched people’s lives with just your presence in moments of deeper meaning.

And – I *love* what you have shared about the talking stick…it’s about listening…mmm….good, good stuff…


~ Bern ~ February 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm

This is a wonderful topic Lance. In the path to liberation we find ourselves often talking about our problems or how we complain about life and people and of the supposed injustices of the world, etc. In duality, one often talks not to work things out, but to have someone agree with what they are saying. This is then the realm of chit/chat.

However, a true friend doesn’t necessarily agree with what is being spoken. They see the sticking point and get out the acetone to unglue that which is stuck. They become the reflection that responds to the issues at hand from a higher octave or from the view point of the entire song being continuously sung. If something feels heavy, then a lighter approach is then the solution, which a true friend would therefore point out. A friend then has an opportunity to show a door that leads to remedy and completion.

On one level, if anything is said out loud which isn’t inspired in the moment, can be considered a cry for help. One then has to look beneath the surface or read between the lines to stop the tears from falling. One can be said to then have the ability to see into one’s soul or to have a heart to heart talk.

Even more importantly perhaps, “I just want to be heard”, is not a proposal for the outer world to listen to them, but for ourselves to perk up and listen. One can then approach life by listening to everything that pops into one’s mind instead of relying on outer reflections to save us and complete us. Some of these thoughts and feelings or emotions when truly heard are then let go of and forgiven, allowing for one’s energy and personal power to return, so they can live life every moment in an inspired fashion, where one is then spirited in all re-unions. One then no longer worries about if they are being listened to, because they can feel what they are experiencing, which then touches upon everything the universe over. With emancipation then, both inside and outside are listened to fully, and with appreciation and care.

So yes and yes and yes…….., we can only share this moment, when we are honest and can put our cards on the table for all to see. And if someone is hiding something or forgetting something or repressing some event, this too is heard with an open heart and can be uncovered and freed with love and assurance.

Elephant Ears for ALL to wear and adorn.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

So, so wonderfully said.

And especially to this idea of truly listening to ourselves. Or are we “too busy” for that, as well? Maybe it starts there – with our own listening to the words we speak (and don’t speak). And to listen with understanding and empathy.

And perhaps when we have done that, we also more fully listen to the outer world (others) speaking to us…

…elephant ears indeed…


Evelyn Lim February 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

I always love to quote that God gives us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen instead of talking more.

Love your post! Your article has to be one of my favorites on your site so far! Thank you for a great reminder to use more of our ears to listen!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I forgot about that one about the two ears/one mouth example – and it’s so true. The other thing about that, too – is that when we really do that, listen more than we speak – when we do speak, it also just has more meaning and value…

And…thank you so much for the kudos!! You’re awesome!!


Little Lessons Under the Big Sky February 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

What a wonderful post and fabulous video to tie it all together, Lance!

I think your point about really LISTENING, and not placing judgement on people (whether strangers OR loved ones) is so vitally important, and becoming less and less frequent in our high paced society.
Sadly, it is an art form that is necessary but being lost, partly because of technology, and partly because it is not being emphasized as important in so many areas of our society.

I always remind myself that I do not know what the person’s past challenges, struggles, and history have been. I choose only to trust that I can find something good in everyone. Sometimes that puts me in a place of vulnerability, but I would rather try to always look at the best in people, and LISTEN to what they are really saying, than to close my heart off of the gifts that I could recieve from knowing that person…..

Those teams were so lucky to have you there, helping facilitate clear communication and understanding. I’m sure the ref. and coach involved were very thankful to be heard.!
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm

We live in a RUSH society…and listening takes a back seat. Yet, if I do that – cut my listening short – doesn’t that also come back to me – as others do the same to me? (…do onto others…)

Jen, I love how you view others – what a truly beautiful way to live life, AND honor everyone with whom your path crosses.

And…thank YOU!! This past weekend was a long one (and I took Monday as a day to recover!) – yet also so good, because of how smoothly everything went (including the moments of “challenge”).

Loving you,


Anne Sales | Coupon Codes February 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

It’s like I was listening to the “Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi” while reading your post and I could hear the song ringing in my ears.
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Lance February 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm

And I’m drawn to that line…”for it is in giving, that we receive…”

Thank you so much for sharing this, it has landed upon my heart tonight.

Much love,


Anne Sales | Coupon Codes February 24, 2011 at 12:58 am

I’m equally thankful for being reminded of that great prayer.
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Susan Liddy February 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

We are ALL a work in progress.
This simple truth helps me to have compassion for myself, and for others.
Gosh, always in a rush to “get there”.
Seeking to understand helps to slow me down.

Feels good.

Thank you!
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Lance February 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

Great to have you here…

Yes, we are most certainly works in progress (I sure AM!!). When we really realize that everyone is in this same boat (the work in progress boat), it does perhaps help us to more fully “understand”. And that’s a good place to “be”…


Naomi Estment February 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Love this post, Lance. Your weekend sounds fabulous, but hectic! I hope this one offers a big relax 😀

What a subject: listening. Interviewing some phenomenal women recently for a magazine article has been such an eye-opener in this regard. Each of our stories is so far-reaching, full of living…it’s a huge challenge to summarize in limited words, and capture the heart – yet so fulfilling to try 🙂
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Lance February 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

It was most definitely hectic!!! Monday was a recovery day! With lots of people helping out – this really was a good weekend!

Hope to hear more about the interview you have been doing – it just really sounds filled with much meaning…


Jaky Astik February 19, 2011 at 8:08 am

We all want to be heard, don’t we? And this post could be helpful to everyone that way. One thing we all should understand is that our desire to be heard and respected for our talks becomes worthless if we don’t learn to listen. We can’t talk without listening to them. No one would want to hear you if all you want to do is speak and never listen.


Lance February 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

…it’s a two-way street…

Or maybe, there’s a time for speaking…and there’s a time for listening. Being able to discern those moments, truly…that is a gift…

Great to have you here…


Dr. J February 19, 2011 at 8:18 am

Powerful piece with a very good message, Lance!

When I became a better listener, my dating life really improved 🙂


Lance February 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Dr. J,
Ha!!! Great point – this really can be not only helpful for the speaking part…it also has it’s own personal benefits to us…


Peggy Nolan February 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

When we become better listeners, everything improves. Case in point, yesterday was the first anniversary of my sister-in-law’s passing. Lots of raw emotion on her family’s side and then on my brother’s side. While everyone was grieving family discord escalated. My brother wanted to be heard, her family wanted to be heard. I spoke to my brother and reminded him that everyone was hurting and to simply remember to go forward with compassion. To listen. To remember with them. Shortly after we spoke, he created a private message board (a suggestion from another brother) and everyone was able to post, share, grieve, and be heard.
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Lance February 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Know that my heart goes out to you and your whole family. These significant dates…they can bring up lots of emotions.

The message board that was created for your sister-in-law sounds like it was a wonderful way to “be heard”, and also for others to listen…and what a wonderful gift that is…

Much peace and love,


Debbie @ Happy Maker February 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Hi Lance, I see that you already have a lot of comments, but I do want to add one more just to thank you for the reminder on understanding. It is very important. And in reality that is want everyone wants, “To be understood.” Thanks again,


Lance February 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thanks so much for being here.

….may we all be understood…


Chris Edgar February 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Hi Lance — yeah, that is one of the most difficult things to see, I think, but one of the most rewarding — that we all want to know that we’re really being listened to, and that this is often more important than having others agree with our mental position, or do what we want. In my experience, being able to listen to someone in a way that will have them feel heard has actually required me to do a lot of work with myself, and to bring healing to the places where I didn’t feel heard at various points in my life.


Lance February 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm

This is such a great point you bring up. Starting within…this is always such a “good” place. And in that space, I believe we can just become more attuned to ourselves. From there, as we go forth in our lives, we have a base with which to more fully connect (and ultimately…to more fully listen and understand).

Thanks again – your words tonight hold much deep meaning for me.

Much peace,


David Stevens February 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Thanks Lance, a very nice, easy to read post. I am a Personal Life Coach and “listening” is the No.1 thing – seek to understand where the other person is coming from. Keep up the good work.
David….also @ http://www.davidstevenslifecoach.com.au


Lance February 21, 2011 at 4:48 am

As a life coach, what a vitally important skill to have – listening skills! And it really is, because that’s the way you understand your clients…so you can best help them.

Best to you in your coaching practice!


David Stevens February 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thanks Lance,
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Delena Silverfox@Coupon Codes February 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Hi Lance,

The entire time I was reading this, I was nodding my head and comforted that someone out there understands this. Not any do anymore.

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Lance February 21, 2011 at 4:50 am

I know that when I am with someone who really and truly listens to me – it just feels like such a gift. Their presence is so meaningful to me, and it is because I know that honestly are seeking to understand….

And that’s such a beautiful gift to another….


David February 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm

For a long time I thought I understood everything that was going on around me, including the reasons that other people were acting the way they did. After doing some self reflection I realized I was never taking the time to really understand people I interacted with.

Now I am working on becoming a better listener so I can understand others instead of just assume to understand where they are coming from.
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 5:06 am

That’s awesome!! It’s one thing for us to tell someone they “don’t understand us”. It’s another altogether for someone to really “get this”. You have “gotten this”! And look at where it is taking you – toward being such a better listener. What a gift that is for everyone you interact with. And by doing this, you also show others – through your actions – what real listening means…



Mitch Mitchell February 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Very nicely written, I must say. I like to think I’m a good listener, but I notice as I’ve gotten older that I’m not as good a listener all the time that I used to be. But when there’s something big on the line I’m a great listener, or so I’ve been told. The only nickname I have for my entire (not counting what parents will call you) is “Guru”; to me, that says a lot. 🙂
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 5:08 am

When others call you “guru” – that is them, truly recognizing the gifts that you share. And what a great place to be – with strong listening skills!! Keep shining!


Bryan Thompson February 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Hi Lance, I love the changes you made to your site. The Jungle Of Life theme is pretty right-on for so many of us. It can definitely seem that way at times. I loved your story (and let’s be honest, how many of us would be up the creek without awesome wives to pull us through?). Learning to listen without taking sides can be one of the most challenging tasks in life but is critical for leadership. Learning to listen without fighting back in an argument is critical for relationship building. It all seems to boil down to listening. Fantastic post, my friend. Keep at it!
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 5:11 am

Ummm….yep, count me “up that creek without paddles”!! My wife is an amazing woman, and this is just one example of her shining!! (and making life so much easier for me!)

And, so well said by you – listening objectively is a gift to each party – and I’m glad I was able to do that, in this moment. Seeing the end results (later that day) – this was also a gift to me, in recognizing more fully the power of truly listening…


Natalia February 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

After spending 20 years in the customer service industry I can tell you the value of listening! A customer with a complaint doesn’t want to HEAR reasons, or excuses as to why something is the way it is. They want to be HEARD and they want their feelings to be validated! After letting someone vent their frustrations and listening to their complaints, it’s amazing how far a sincere “I’m sorry” or “I understand” can go to calming a customer down!

It doesn’t surprise me that you were able to handle the situation so well. Seems to me like listening would be one of your many strengths! 🙂
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 7:14 am

What you have shared is so, so true! I know I’ve had experiences on the phone with customer service that have been both very positive and very negative. Those that are positive always have an element of listening (and caring) involved – and what a huge difference that makes.

And I think getting you on the phone in customer service…well…that would be a completely WONDERFUL experience!!


Liv @ Choosing Beauty February 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

Hi Lance! Funny, I was just talking with the hubby this weekend about how perception – based on our individual life experiences – clouds so many relationships. I had lunch with a friend last week; we were best friends throughout high school and for a few years after, but our relationship disintegrated. We finally made amends last week – after 15 years – and realized neither of us had really shared or listened to what the other person needed or was experiencing at that time. We had made up stories in our minds about what was happening. – Liv

{p.s. thanks for stopping by my blog today!}


Lance February 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm

It’s great to have you here!

This is really a great example of what what a lack of listening can lead to – a friendship that suffered because of it. And, the good in all of this is to see where you are today in this relationship – because you both took the time (and care) to listen.

Thank you so, so much for sharing this…


Angela Artemis February 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

Hi Lance,
This was a fabulous blog post. I think you illustrated how important it is to listen and not place any of our preconceived notions on the person speaking. You’re right we really don’t know what’s going on with them?

Thank you for the terrific video too!
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Those “preconceived notions” are something which are just our head making things up. And when we do this, our listening in impacted in a negative way. And it was just so good to see how this “situation” unfolded, letting everyone speak…as I listened (without judgment).

And…I *love* that video, too!!


Ajen February 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Lance, for me, this post demonstrates how one needs to let go of the “self” and to just be… and in this case, “be” in the sense of being there for those who need to be heard. Like other commenters, Zeenat and Emma touched on something that we should all consider: all to often we inadvertently hurt relationships because we are not truly listening; instead, we are thinking of ways to offer opinions and advice.

Thank you for posting this. As I reflect, I have found that what I truly love about the process of active listening is the fact everyone develops a better sense of understanding. …no one was taught, advised, nor judged.
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Lance February 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Many times, it’s just the opportunity to be really “heard” that makes all the difference – and that is not about trying to solve a problem, or give advice – it’s just about being there, fully, in the moment, as someone else opens up and shares… (wonderfully said by you…)

Understanding…what a great place to reach in our communications.

Thank you so much for your beautiful thoughts.


Tina February 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Being heard, well actually the lack thereof, has been the crux of my struggle since childhood. I rarely felt heard. Often I felt invisible. I think it’s a universal need to be heard. To feel someone values us enough and loves us enough to truly listen. For me the upside to the lack of being heard is that it has prompted me to be a good listener. To let those around me have the gift of my presence. It’s not to say I always, or even usually, agree with what they’re saying. But I listen deeply. What a simple act, yet it speaks volumes.


Lance February 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I’m so sorry to hear you weren’t listened to in your childhood. Not being heard – that’s hard no matter what age we are. And yet – you give of yourself today, to others – by deeply listening to them. Tina, this is such a beautiful gift…

And know, too, that you are not invisible here, and that what you share always matters and has meaning.

Thank you so much for sharing from your soul…that is truly a gift…


John Sherry February 22, 2011 at 7:38 am

Wonderful Lance, stirring stuff and with such enormous respect for the other side of the story beyond the argument, conversation, and emotions on show. All we ask is that we’re heard and validated in sharing what’s on our mind or troubling our hearts. You present how it often comes out wrong or in other ways but it means the same thing. Hear me please.

I loved this and I’ve heard you too Lance.
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Lance February 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Validation – I love that you have mentioned that. We all want to be validated, heard, and understood. And it’s not just about the “big” things in life, it is about the whole of our life…

Thanks much for being here!


Michelle @ Following Your Joy February 24, 2011 at 11:20 am

Dear Lance,

A very important post. And a beautiful reminder of why I am so drawn to you. Because in your core, you “see” others, you hear them, you validate them for who they are. What an incredible gift.

I used to lead Franklin Covey courses, and this Habit Five was the one that I thought was so foundational to any relationship. Just think what would happen – from a world perspective – if we all chose to “listen” to the other person first? Wow. There wouldn’t be wars, there wouldn’t be hatred. If we could only step into the other person’s/country’s shoes for just a moment.

The examples you’ve used here are powerful. And I actually got goosebumps as I read each “There’s no way we can know…” statement. Amen.

It’s why I LOVE being a coach. I get the privilege of truly stepping into another person’s life. And when you do that, every little single thing they do in their life…makes perfect sense, based on what they know; based on their beliefs; based on their experience.

Thank you for choosing to “listen” to all of us. You bring such joy to the world.

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Lance February 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

…and why I am drawn to you…

Michelle, I just really see such compassion and caring in your being – it shines from your soul. What a wonderful gift that is, which you give…

If we all did this – even just a bit more – listened, cared, showed more compassion, loved – our world (our personal world and the world at large) would be just such a more love-filled place…

So, so wonderfully good to know you…

Love, peace, and all things chocolate,


meleah rebeccah February 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I really enjoyed this, Lance. So much truth. You really made me stop and think am I REALLY listening to others?


Lance February 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Great to *see* you here today!

…and this is one that really makes me think, too…how am I really doing…


Delena Silverfox March 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hi Lance!

Just dropping by to say hello, and because I was hoping that maybe your sabbatical would be done (I know, silly of me). But still, it’s nice to hope.

I hope you’re really enjoying your time off!

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Lance March 15, 2011 at 5:26 am

Hi Delena!!
Thanks so much for stopping by and checking in on me – you are so, so sweet.

Yes, this time away has been very meaningful, and just what I really needed.

Great, great, great to hear from you!!



waterpearls April 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

hi Lance, this is a nice and touchy post,no doubt Listening and understanding are the most important things and this post really encourages a good thought of listening.
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Lance April 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

It’s great to “meet” you!

Listening is something that definitely takes practice. When we do this, though, we truly build meaningful relationships…and that is a very wonderful thing…


Shivam Garg April 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Hi Lance Ekum,
This is very innovative and philosophical article. Listening is a very important part of good communication. Without listening, communication skills just nullifies. And this has been excellently brought out in this article.


Rob May 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Hey Lance,

I needed this post. Getting lost in ‘busy’ can filter so much not meant to be filtered. Thanks for the reminder. I usually will make it a point to be the friendly ear. But at times, so much clutter disables my hearing. I reckon I have to do some deleting.
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