Do you hear or do you listen?

“The best way to persuade people is with your ears – by listening to them.”

Dean Rusk

There is a marked difference between hearing and listening. To hear is to acknowledge the content that others are seeking to share. To listen, well, that means that you desire to understand why they need to share it.  You are seeking to learn their view of the world through empathy and understanding.  

John Maxwell stated that “leadership is influence.”  The key to building influence is not built on fostering an ability to hear but instead is predicated on nurturing a deep desire and ability to listen genuinely. Only then can you possibly begin to persuade… 

Change is driven by the ability to see the world through another’s eyes…

“Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.”

Max Carver 

Empathy is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another person. It requires putting down your own preconceived notions about what is or isn’t true, and making yourself vulnerable to being wrong. Empathy is about the willingness to have your own life changed.

Empathy isn’t feeling sorry for someone else. It isn’t about being more compassionate because you are “supposed to be.” Empathy is about truly caring, deeply, and profoundly caring about another human being’s needs and experiences.

Once you have experienced the world through the lens of someone else you can never unsee those things. You might be able to ignore or attempt to forget what you have seen but you cannot break that emotional connection and this implies great vulnerability.

Perhaps this is the reason so many are unwilling to attempt a truly empathic connection. To make yourself vulnerable carries a responsibility to change your own mind and then accountability to help create change for others…

colorful drawings on wall
Photo by Eyvn on

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