Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days.
He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children,
choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions
through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things
around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming
"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger
daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at
school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you
"Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you
don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I'll never forget her
answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"
Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14.
Two psychiatrists meet at their 20th college reunion. One is vibrant, while the other
looks withered and worried. "So what's your secret?" the older looking
psychiatrist asks. "Listening to other people's problems every day, all day long, for
years on end, has made an old man of me." "So," replies the younger looking
one, "who listens?"
American Health, quoted in Reader's Digest.
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the
White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One
day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down
the line and shook his hand, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this
morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good
work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir." It was not till the end of the line,
while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard.
Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I'm sure she had it
How good a listener are you?
1) Since you think about four times faster than a person usually talks, do you use this
time to think about other things while you're keeping track of the conversation?
2) Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?
3) Do you avoid listening to things you feel will be too difficult to understand?
4) Can you tell from a person's appearance and delivery that there won't be anything
5) When someone is talking to you do you appear to be paying attention when you're not?
6) Do certain words and phrases prejudice you so you cannot listen objectively?
7) When listening are you distracted by outside sights and sounds?
Leadership, Vol.1, No. 4, p. 99.
Teenage prostitutes, during interviews in a San Francisco study, were asked: "Is
there anything you needed most and couldn't get?" Their response, invariably preceded
by sadness and tears was unanimous: "What I needed most was someone to listen to me.
Someone who cared enough to listen to me."
Jim Reapsome, Homemade.
Formula for handling people: 1. Listen to the other person's story. 2. Listen to the
other person's full story. 3. Listen to the other person's full story first.
Marshall, Bits & Pieces, April, 1991.
Good listening is like tuning in a radio station. For good results, you can listen to
only one station at a time. Trying to listen to my wife while looking over an office
report is like trying to receive two radio stations at the same time. I end up with
distortion and frustration. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention. To
tune into my partner, I must first choose to put away all that will divide my attention.
That might mean laying down the newspaper, moving away from the dishes in the sink,
putting down the book I'm reading, setting aside my projects.
Robert W. Herron, Homemade, June, 1987.