Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

How to Listen

The Ethical Edge
The Art of Integrity
How to Listen

CEO~Chief Vision Officer

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.
When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
Karl Menninger

I had the unmistakable feeling of being punched in the gut, however I hadn’t been touched.  I was in another practice session in a year-long program I had signed up for called “Trainer Bootcamp.” The program lived up to its name, with hour after hour preparation on every detail that could make me a better presenter and facilitator.

Ms. Mitra McNally… Ms.  McNally as we called her…was my mentor-coach. She is the most powerful presenter I know and the most intimidating woman I have ever met.  There are not enough adjectives to describe the presence this woman commands when she speaks.

The subject that day was Debriefing Processes.  Ms. McNally had had enough of my excuses and was now focusing her skills on getting through to me. “You don’t listen with your ears,” she bellowed, “you listen with your whole existence.”  I didn’t fully understand what she was saying, however, in that moment, she gave me a tool which radically changed my life forever  and that I am still perfecting every day  with how I work, how I parent and how I engage everything I do.  Whether with a business owner or my child, listening helps me to connect in a completely different way letting another know they matter.

I always thought listening was about hearing, yet it has very little to do with what we hear.  Listening is full sensory and mental engagement.  It’s looking a person in the eyes, shutting out all other thoughts, while feeling and observing every aspect of what the individual is saying and doing.  When done properly, listening allows you to feel what another is experiencing.

It is important to note that effective listening is not a hypnotic state like Jaden Smith doing the snake move at the end of the final Karate Kid movie!  No, listening with your whole existence lets you appear normal on the outside, yet engaged completely differently on the inside.

In our distraction intensive world of i-phones, texting, advertisements and everything else that competes for our attention, I often find that the people around us deserve and need our engagement.  While I suffer from distraction like everyone else; I can say that thanks to Ms. McNally, I often find myself creatively listening with my whole existence not just hearing with my ears.

This week’s article was contributed by Eric McGrath







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