A Time to Talk

by Elliott D. Landau, Ph.D.

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    Let’s talk about listening. Most of us do a lot of talking; few of us do much listening.

    When we listen, we learn. Sometimes we need to listen with our third ear. Does anyone you know really have a third ear? Of course not. When you listen with your third ear, it means that you listen to what people mean by what they say. If you listen hard enough and carefully enough, you will soon learn to understand that sometimes people say things they don’t mean. If you listen very carefully, you will know what they mean by what they do not say.

    Have you ever tried to put your little brother to bed? He may say, “No, no, I won’t go to bed! I don’t want to go to bed!” Does he mean it, or is he just saying it? When his eyes are half-closed with sleep and he cries through tears of misery, then listening with your third ear tells you he really doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to go to bed.

    Strange as it seems, we should all listen not only to what people say, but to what they do not say. What is not said is very important; it is often as important as what is said. A good listener listens to both—what is said and what is not said.

    Have you been listening?