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“Spending time with my family and loved ones”, is what most people will say if you ask them what they will be doing this Christmas.

I also believe, sadly, that in most households there will be far more arguing and upsets than at any other time of the year.  So what is going wrong?

One thing I am certain of is that it would be a far happier and more peaceful atmosphere if we simply listened better to each other.

Stephen Covey (7 Habits) rightly says, “Seek first to understand”, he then goes on, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”.

My top tips for listening better

  • Stop everything that you are doing and face the speaker.
  • Make eye contact and just listen, remaining curious about what they may say.
  • Do not interrupt….unless there is an emergency, everything else is secondary to what they are saying!
  • When they have stopped speaking, remain silent a little longer, they will probably say more.
  • When they have really finished, pause for a moment before you reply.
  • Tell them one thing your appreciate about them.

“The only thing the human mind seems unable to multi-task is attention.  It can do lots of other things at the same time, but not if one of them is attention.  We cannot do other things and listen at the same time.  Our children, of all ages and until they or we die, need us to listen to them.  Listening is right up there with food and air, and love.  Actually, it is love.” Nancy Kline (Author of Time to Think)

Two short videos on listening Tips for Listening and Symptoms of not being heard.

The author:

Colin Smith, better known as The Listener, can be contacted via or