Mindful Influence ~ Creating conscious moments

Kari Estrada

Listening Lessons


Stephen R. Covey quoted, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  Listening is a skill that most of us, including myself, need a lot more practice of.  Before starting my blog post, I looked up the definition of ‘Listen’ from Dictionary.com:

lis·ten  [lis-uhn]

verb (used without object)

1. to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
2. to pay attention; heed; obey (often followed by to  ): Children don’t always listen to their parents.
3. to wait attentively for a sound (usually followed by for  ): to listen for sounds of their return.
4. Informal. to convey a particular impression to the hearer; sound: The new recording doesn’t listen as well as the old one.

When reading through these definitions the phrase that jumped out at me was, “to pay attention.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as, “paying attention, moment to moment without judgment.”  Paying attention to others, sounds, our environment, and ourselves is really the essence of mindful listening.  Practicing mindful listening can lead to enhanced focus, more effective communication, and improved social awareness.

Think back to a recent conversation you have had with a family member or friend.  Were you fully engaged with what was being said?  Were you preoccupied with other thoughts or emotions?  Were other distractions decreasing your communication focus?  How did you respond to what the other person was saying?

The following are two mindful listening exercises:

  1. SURROUNDING SOUNDS – Take five minutes to stop what you are doing, no matter where you are, and notice the sounds.  It could be kids playing outside, a copier in the background, a clock ticking, or the rain falling.  Just listen and observe without reacting.  Allow yourself to be in the moment.
  2. MINDFUL CONVERSATION: From Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute – Find a family member, friend, or co-worker.  Take turns speaking for three minutes at a time of uninterrupted speaking.  As the listener, you are only allowed to say, “I see” or “I understand.”  During this three minutes see how you react to the conversation.
    • Did you fell the urge to tell your own experience or story?
    • Did you want to offer advice?
    • What emotions were you having during the three minutes?
    • Are you judging or making assumptions?
    • What are the unspoken characters of the communication?

Here is a video demonstrating the difference between Mindless and Mindful Listening:

There are many techniques to improve your listening.  Dedicate time weekly to practice mindful listening so that you can adopt these new habits in your day-to-day interactions.  Please share your listening lessons and what steps you have taken to better your communication.


Author: Kari Estrada

Hi, my name is Kari Estrada. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where I earned my BBA in Accounting from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In 2005 I moved to Reno, Nevada. I married my best friend and am currently a stay-at-home Mom to my two beautiful children. I am pursuing my MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno. My purpose is to educate others about mindfulness and how it can influence our lives. Practicing mindfulness allows me to grow and learn each day. It guides me to be in the present moment, to trust the journey of each day, and to create positive experiences. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences when reading my blog.

2 thoughts on “Listening Lessons

  1. I have been practicing the mindful conversation techniques you described above for the last week now. What I’ve discovered is that during my listening portion of the conversation, my mind wanders a lot to other topics rather than truly being in the moment and listening to my partner. However, each time I’ve participated in this practice, my wandering mind wanders less. With each try, my listening skills improve and the attention I’m paying to the other person is increasing. Again, everything comes back to practice, practice, practice.

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