The Art And Practice Of Listening Well with Leslie Shore

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Listening is a very different thing from merely hearing. It takes effort, attention, filtering, and practice. It’s a process that requires us to use different parts of our brain, and a process that is very rarely taught in formal education. Although it is so critical to improving our lives, it is a skill we have to learn on our own. One important result of learning to be a good listener is the deepening of relationships. And it goes both ways. Sometimes being a responsible listener is realizing when you’re not being listened to. “We actually teach people how to treat us, and the same is true in our conversations.” When we are really listening to another person, Shore explains, “what is happening is that the relationship is deepening, that they feel that what they’re saying is totally valued and that they should continue.” Even if we have heard the story before, and think that we know what our friend is going to say, it’s important not to let that get in the way. “We’re complicated human beings and we are changing on a daily basis, and we think that sometimes it’s only us that’s changing and it’s not really true. Our friends are changing at the same time, our relationship with them changes.” Shore explains several barriers to good listening, such as interrupting, intruding, rehearsing, and boredom, among others. One unique barrier she describes is the inability to be silent. A good listener will “listen without judgement, and wait for the period at the end of the sentence before formulating a reply, not replying, but formulating the reply." This is difficult because sometimes it means that there will be a silent pause within a conversation. Further, she discusses how our technology and consumer-driven society makes it even more difficult for us to learn to listen well. She points out that in American technological society there is a pervasive belief that power resides in the speaker rather than the listener. This leads to a devaluation of silence. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Leslie Shore has worked in the retail industry and personal management fields, as well as being a professor and instructional designer, where she has gained much wisdom in what it takes to be an effective listener. She is the owner of Listen to Succeed, a consultancy that focuses on using listening analytics to help personal and professional clients achieve their highest level of effective communication. Her book is currently being used as a textbook in several universities.

Leslie Shore is the author of:

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Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is the difference between listening and hearing
  • How you can improve your listening skills
  • How improving your listening skills can improve your life
  • What are some tools for effective listening
  • How you know when you’re not being heard
  • How you know when you’re not listening
  • Is technology helping or hurting our interpersonal communications
  • What are some of the barriers to listening
  • What is the law of least effort

Host: Justine Willis Toms      Interview Date: 4/15/2016      Program Number: 3578

Music Playlist

From Album: Intervention
Artist: Helen Jane Long
2012 BLlE Music Records #9790900213570

Opening Essay: Track 01 Intervention
Music Break 1: Track 02 Free
Music Break 2: Track 06 Fountain
Music Break 3: Track 03 Willow