Listening To Understand vs. Listening To Respond

Years ago, I can’t remember the book, but I remember reading the following expression…

Listening to understand versus listening to respond. 

Initially I had no idea what the heck that meant. 

I figured it was probably just a cute play on words. 

As I read more into it and began to fully understand what it meant, listening to understand versus listening to respond, it’s like a light bulb went off in my head. 

It made total sense to me. 


Because that’s what I did. 

It’s what I was doing. 

It’s what I had always done. 

Listening so that I could respond to whoever was speaking to me. 

Never listening so that I fully understood what they were saying. 

And as I thought more about it, it dawned on me… 

No wonder why I never remember people’s names when I first meet them. 

I’m too busy thinking about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it versus fully listening to their name and who they are. 

Same goes for conversations with family, friends, and significant others.

 Especially true during disagreements. 

Yes I’d listen, but never to fully understand where the other person was coming.

Instead, I was listening to formulate what my response or “comeback” if you will, would be. 

This was such an eye opening moment for me. 

I decided going forward, I would fully commit to listening to others so that I understood them and worry little about how and what I would respond with. 

Oh, and get this… when I began to fully listen, I discovered that sometimes the best response was no response. 

That sometimes those who were talking to me just want to be heard and listened to. 

They weren’t looking for a response. 

A major “aha” moment for me. 

It hasn’t always been easy to do (listening to understand versus listening to respond). 

But I’ll tell you, it has drastically helped boost my success and happiness. 

Both personally and professionally.

More in this episode of my Mornings With Mike podcast.

Thanks for being here.

You’re awesome…



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