S:0178 Distinction: Listen For vs. Listen To

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Most people, at some point in their life, have been told that a secret to success is to become a good listener. What this usually meant was to exhibit certain physical traits such as being quiet while the other person talked, nodding in understanding, not interrupting, pausing after they finish, and so forth.

That’s good advice. But exceptionally effective listeners have moved quite a bit beyond that. Today to really listen well you must know what to listen for.

At it’s core Listening For is to hear the person inside the words. When you hear the Who of the speaker you are hearing what they are feeling not just what they are saying. This will give you information about their fears, excitement, passion, needs, values, commitment, expectations, and trust.

When you Listen For you — and they — have a chance to have a deeper experience and a richer communication. To become good at Listening For you will have to school yourself in knowing what’s going on inside people and be willing to go beyond the surface techniques of Listening To.


Copyright 1999 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.