Welcome to ListenFirst

Listening changes everything.

Very few of us have grown up with any exposure to a truly skilled listener. Who can remember, especially during times of disagreement or strong emotion, feeling deeply heard and understood by a mother, father, or classroom teacher? These role models, however well-intentioned, were interested more in telling and speaking than in listening and understanding.

The result is that when we become adults we accept poor listening in our relationships — a spouse who disagrees or reassures; a team member who argues. This is normal. This is communication. True listening does not exist, and this is OK with us because we can’t miss or want what we don’t know and never or rarely had. This lack of awareness gives us a world rife with conflict, dysfunction, misunderstanding, and solitude.

Learning to listen gives us another possibility. At home, in the workplace, and beyond, it is through real listening that we build intimacy, strengthen connections, deepen understanding, and create the space necessary for relationships of all kinds to thrive.

  • It is only through real listening that we ever truly come to know another person.
  • It is only through real listening that we ourselves ever truly feel understood.
  • It is only through real listening that we gain access to meaningful, lasting transformation, as we dissolve the walls that exist between us and begin to heal the world one relationship at a time.

Conscious Conversations

Our foundational skills programs

In any conversation between two people, the choices at any one time are one is the speaker, and one is the listener. These ‘turns’ change within the conversation, based on the changes in peoples’ emotions.

Not understanding this one principle causes almost all conversational conflict. Most speakers, for example, speak when they should be listening.

The ListenFirst  foundational skills program — called “Conscious Conversation” — offers a blueprint for this critical shift in the ‘turns’ as each practice-filled day focuses on one side of the conversation equation:

The skill of listening:     what it is, what it isn’t, how to do it.

Applying the listening skill to difficult speaking conversations with others — particularly when we are wanting to change someone’s problem behavior.

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A weekly blog.

Long ago, an expert tracker would put an ear to the ground to listen for approaching danger. Success at that level required a quiet intensity, the very same quality required for listening in today’s world. Let’s do that in this blog to keep alive the “listening” conversation from the workshops.

November 14, 2023 - Have you ever asked yourself this question? I’m interested in your answer. I learned how to listen, formally, forty-five years ago, in Thomas Gordon’s “Parent Effectiveness Training” (P.E.T.) class. My life was never the same. I was always a natural listener, sensitive and receptive to peoples’ speaking. And, the moment I saw the actual ‘how to’ of the listening process, I remember saying to myself, “OMG. This is it! This is the whole thing. This is what has to happen between people.” With that revelation, I took it on and never looked back. I became a student of listening, began practicing it, learned all I could about it, and started teaching it. I’ve often wondered about the other participants in that P.E.T. class. We all had the same experience. Did any of the others take it on as I did, make it as big a part of their lives? Probably not. Or, at least not many. Why not? How could anyone who saw what I saw walk away unchanged? How could anyone see the holy grail of human relationships not be touch, moved, and inspired to create a listening life? How could anyone not want to bring this life-changing miracle… read more
Listening one-on-one, and face-to-face is difficult enough. To listen in a team environment requires a different level of mental agility and focus. The basic skill is the same; listening is listening. There are just more dynamics to orchestrate when 5 or 7 or 19 people are involved. The level of this difficulty escalates with phone conferencing.