What If Wednesday: Are you listening?

What If you listen more than you speak today? Try to hear what people aren’t saying out loud, the story behind the words.


Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” If you take a moment to really think about how you hold conversations, you may discover he was pretty close to the truth. As humans, we are much better at dispensing advice, defending our position, or trying to clear confusion using our own words. As others speak to us, outwardly, we are listening to what they are saying. We make eye contact and nod or shake our head appropriately but, inwardly, in our mind, we are constructing our reply at the same time they are speaking. Often that leads to getting stuck on something the other person has said. They continue to speak but we are not hearing because we are formulating a response to something they said three or four sentences before.

Listening – true listening – involves much more than hearing the words someone says. True listening observes body language, hears a tone of voice, and understands voice inflections. True listening is not about giving a reply but is focused on what the other person is saying and not saying at the same time. It is about dropping our defenses or our reasons or our agenda to understand the heart of what is being spoken to us. It involves empathy and stepping into the emotions and motivation of the other. True listening is done with the well-being of the other person, and our relationship with them, at the front of our mind and our heart.

So how can you apply this to your personal and professional life today…? 

What If you make an effort to listen with more than your ears?

What If you listen to your students and to their parents or your coworkers?

What If you pause five seconds before you respond to a question or a statement?

What If you listen more than you speak today?


brad-lademannBrad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.


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