Vail Daily column: Listening with our ears, hearing with our hearts |

Vail Daily column: Listening with our ears, hearing with our hearts

So last week I talked about the importance of speaking kindly and lovingly to one another, sincere flattery and being intentional in our effort to show how we truly feel. That was the “speaking” part, but what happens when it comes to listening to what is being said to us, and actually hearing it?

Too often I witness a game of verbal pingpong. You know the game, where one person offers a compliment and the recipient feels like they must say something nice in return.

The Game Begins

And then the game begins, a back-and-forth, to-and-fro endless string of niceties shared with one another. If truly sincere, then it is a loving and awesome display to watch. If it is just chatter, then I hate to be the bearer of the bad and obvious news, the insincerity is very clear to everyone around including the two people in the game.

Let’s challenge the thinking a little bit here. What if, and I am just saying what if, the person who receives the first compliment and listens with their ears, lets it settle in and truly hears it with their heart? Perhaps what might have started as a cordial conversation just to say something nice could actually turn into a meaningful discussion between two or more people where everyone feels good about the outcome.


Something good can come from everything and every encounter. The problem is that too often we want to rush in and compete in the conversation and feel it necessary to say something nice back to the other person. What if we were a little more patient in our response? What if we listened with our ears and heard it, really heard it with our hearts? We just might realize that the other person has said something profound and is truly trying to be sincere and nice.

When we rush right back into it with our own compliment, we may even hurt their feelings as they feel like we didn’t take the time to appreciate what it is that they actually said.

Listening with our ears and hearing with our hearts really are two different things. When we only listen with our ears, we sometimes rush to judgment or feel the need to start the volley of verbal pingpong. When we hear with our hearts, we are looking at the other person beyond what it is we see at face value. And we look for ways to thank them, maybe even ask more questions about their compliment or their intentions.

Sincere flattery

Flattery will get you everywhere, sincere flattery that is. And when we learn to hear with our hearts for the positive attitude, good natured intentions and sincere compliment, then we will begin to enjoy a much healthier relationship with all of those around us. And for those of you who just have a hard time accepting a compliment, this is definitely the advice for you. Listen with your ears, but slow down and hear things with your heart. You will come to accept accolades and praises with much greater ease.

So in 2014 let’s focus on speaking loving, kind and sincere sentiments to one another, and at the same time, let’s focus on hearing those very same kind and loving words with our hearts and not just our ears.

I would love to hear all about your commitment to make 2014 a year of speaking kind words and hearing with your hearts at, because when you apply both to your life, each and every week will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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