Honest Listening

One of the most common complaints is communication, or lack of it. No matter what roles you play, as a human being in a world with other human beings, you have a regular and recurring choice to either honestly listen to people or just hear them.

Honest listening is sincerely giving your attention to another person while they are talking with the intention of understanding. If someone has your attention that means you are not thinking about what to say or wondering what time your next meeting starts or scanning behind the person for someone else you want to talk with.


The Chinese symbol for listen embodies the critical components of honest listening which go beyond just hearing.  On the left side of the symbol is your ear to hear with. The right side adds that you see the other person with your eyes and feel them with your heart; give your complete, undivided attention and listen wholeheartedly.

To engage in honest listening use the components of the symbol as your guide:

  • Ears: Are you hearing what the person is saying (or hearing what you are saying to yourself?)
  • Ten Eyes: do they have your focus with full eye contact?
  • Undivided Attention: pretty self-explanatory. Either the person has your full attention or they do not. Are they competing with your electronic gadgets?
  • One Heart: Is your heart open?

This symbol embodies honest listening because it gets at the core of WHY you are listening. Many times people listen because someone is talking, not with their ears, eyes, undivided attention and heart.

The benefits of honest listening include, greater clarity, better relationships, real information and respect. How could you change your life and your relationships if you practiced honest listening?

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