Dave Worthen

3 years ago · 5 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

chat Contact the author

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Listening: The Holy Grail

That was amazing!
She totally got
what | was saying! /o

You want someone to listen to you.

That’s actually only partially true.

You can recall right now over the span of your life, hundreds of people that have listened to you. Your wife. Your husband. Your parents. Past boyfriends. Past girlfriends. Grade school teachers. Your aunt or uncle. Your bosses. Your friends. A counselor. Hell, your dog.

But in all of those there may only be a handful, possibly even one or two, that actually listened and understood you.

And if you casually go through your memory right now of all those who have listened to you, I’m sure you’ll come up with a few people who actually “get you.” You know, they actually listen and by some mysterious unexplained shifting of the Earth’s axis, they understand you.

And understanding is the Holy Grail.

Not just “nod your head” “I understand you,” shit.

Not, “I hear you” like some kind of synthetic version of understanding.

Not, a “I see what you’re saying” and yet you detect that they really don’t get it, understanding.


Genuine for real, understanding.

And when this occurs, you will say, “He/she really listened to me,” which still is not quite complete.

He or she listened and understood you.

Until you have understanding, you have nothing.

This is why people often get so upset.

“You didn’t hear a word I said!”

Ummmm...actually they did hear it.

“You never listen to me!”

Ummmm...I’m actually quite sure they were listening.

If you magnify all the moments in your life where you felt you were not listened to, you will most likely get the feeling people don’t understand you.

The truth is they all listened.

But only a few understood.

It’s kind of spooky.

People are listening and nodding and there’s lots of that going on.

People listen to the news. They listen to music. They listen to arguments their neighbors are having. They listen to gossip in the coffee shop.

Hell, if you’re out on a hike or walking in a park and you are attentive, you will listen to the birds.

But real genuine listening with understanding is almost if not, a lost art.

What Makes A Good Listener:

So what makes your best friend, family member, or Mark or Eileen at work such a good listener?

Well for one, they actually give a shit. I hate to be so blunt but really a good listener does.

In the coaching and counseling I do, the heated phrase of “they don’t a give a shit,” comes up on both sides. Again this language may be harsh, but people tend to describe their real life experiences with real life language.

And it gets emotional and raw when one feels that the other person doesn’t really listen or care. 

So the language parallels their emotion.

And really, you can probably recall right now someone in your life that you thought cared. You thought they listened and were interested in how you were doing and your well being. But really, in a private moment you might say to yourself: “They really don’t give a shit.”

And you believe that to your very core.

Well, the reason that expression is so descriptive is when you are listening to people you do have to give a shit.

For real.

You do have to care.

For real.

And another part of this listening equation that’s spooky, is if your friend, spouse or partner is “listening” and you feel like they don’t give a shit, you immediately know it, despite them being your best bud or whatever...that they really don’t.

Listening in many cases, has unfortunately become somewhat of a con job.

Someone listens to you with all the mannerisms of listening. They’re attentive. They look at you. They acknowledge you. They give you these great “Uh huh,” and “Wow, really?” and you’re all jacked up because they appear to be listening.

Nah. Sometimes it’s a con job. That whole charade was the best they could do. All of us have experienced this. And we’ve all done it one time or another. Hard bullet to bite, but that’s because it’s a bullet.

The tragic thing is that at the end of what you were saying, they said something like, “Wow, you really have a big problem on your hands there! You wanna grab a burger?”



You actually feel shortchanged. Admit it. You feel a tiny bit ripped-off by the fact that you just spilled your guts about something personal and important and you got fake listening.

Listening: The Real Deal

You will know the instant you have been listened to and understood.

It is like those old time religious revivals. I mean it’s almost like that. Because when you get done spilling your beans and someone actually acknowledges and understands you, you think you just got the Holy Spirit in you.


I mean real listening and understanding?

It’s practically orgasmic.

Come on. You know it’s true!

You decide one day you have to tell someone about this situation in your life and they absolutely better understand you or swear-to-god you’re going to throw your cell phone into the ocean.

You know the feeling, right?

So then you tell this person, and I mean you tell them everything. You tell them the details. You express your anger and frustration and upset. You get raw and real.

And all this time they are right there with you. I mean if there was a wavelength where two people could ride it together, this person was riding right alongside of you. On the same surfboard. On the same wave. And their expressions and acknowledgements at each turn are as if they’re experiencing the exact same thing you did.

And you can feel it. You are fucking pumped because why?

Because this person is listening and understanding you.

And if they’re really good, they’ll ask a very intelligent question along the way. Something that makes you pause, and have a realization. You know, like, “Damn...I never thought of that!”

And you are more pumped because they are not only listening, but they helped you mid listening to you.

Which means they’re really listening and understanding.

And at the end, there’s no cornball, non-sequitur, unreal acknowledgement. Their acknowledgement is often brief.

You know why?

Because they were on that surfboard on the same wave and totally duplicated and understood you the whole ride.

And using that analogy, when you get done and you are “both ashore,” you look at this person and they look back at you and say something as profound but as simple as this:

Holy crap.”

That’s right.

Two words. And they say it while they look you straight in the eye and with the empathy and understanding of someone who truly did understand.

And this is where you just about bust your britches, as my Dad would say.

This person said “Holy Crap” and you feel like YES! YES! YES! Someone finally understands me! You feel like you’re ready to go up to the front of the stage and tell Billy Graham you are saved.

Listening and understanding is the Holy Grail.

I’m a trained counselor. I listen to people every day. Have been for over forty years. And really when I listen and understand, many people feel that I have not only listened and understood them, but that I have actually seen them.

That’s right.

People have not been listened to and understood for so long that they begin to wonder if people really see them. Even if they’re standing two feet in front of them.

Listening and understanding have zero to do with physical proximity.

It has everything to do with truly caring and giving a shit.

And whether over the phone, or in person, or chowing down on a hot dog at a baseball game, listening and understanding can change a person’s life.

Because once they feel listened to, they have the space TO BE.

And when they feel they can BE, they feel they can grab back ahold of the reins of their situation and do something about it.

“Thanks for listening to me, I now have a better idea of where we went off the rails and how I can go back and talk with her and make things better between us.”


Listen and understand for real.

It. Is. The. Holy. Grail.

I offer a free 30 minute consultation over the phone to discuss any issues you have that you feel might be blocking your personal or business success. 

If you want someone to listen and understand you, please click on the link below.

Free Phone Consultation with Dave Worthen

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Proma 🐝 Nautiyal

3 years ago #9

Great buzz, Dave Worthen. This is one of the most important things for any human being, is the importance of being listened to and understood. For those who listen and do not understand, there are a number of very human reasons for it which cannot be used as an excuse to not giving their 100 percent attention to someone and listening to them with an open mind. One of the human reasons, I believe, is their own subconscious is talking to them and battling out every point that is put across by the speaker. Even though they are not saying it out aloud, they are saying it out aloud in their head. That distracts them, not only from listening to what is being said, but also from accepting it as the truth of the speaker. There is one more kind of listener I have come across. The one that does not even try to hide the fact that they are not listening. Actually they are half listening thinking of a retort or a statement that they can hurl at the speaker as soon as they are finished talking. (Something that kids generally do, but I am talking about adults here) The solution to this problem: Speak to these people in monosyllables, and only as much as we need to communicate. Would love to know your thoughts on the latter. Thank you!

Dave Worthen

3 years ago #8

Thanks, Renoy! I don't mind. Good luck!

Dave Worthen

3 years ago #7

Thank you Claire L Cardwell!Yes, "listening" has been corrupted into these other systems or such. Just true caring, listening, is really quite an experience. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Dave Worthen

3 years ago #6

Thank you very much, Preston \ud83d\udc1d Vander Ven! You are right.There is no greater feeling that being in true communication. Thanks for commenting here!

Dave Worthen

3 years ago #5

Hola, Lupita \ud83d\udc1d Reyes! Thank you for coming here and commenting. You are very welcome!

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #4

Great post Dave Worthen ! I hate the phrase 'I hear you' , yes you hear me, but do you actually get it? Or is it simply in one ear and out the other. I also don't like the term 'active listening' - it's a bit corporate speaky for me. Actually taking the time out to really listen to what someone is saying or have someone do that for you is amazing!

Lupita 🐝 Reyes

3 years ago #3

What a wonderful post Dave Worthen!!!! Listening. Understanding. But knowing that someone really cares.... wow!!! Besides love, that’s one of the most beautiful things in life!!!!! Tha k you!!! Really appreciate you took the time to write this article!!! You’re a wonderful soul!! :D

Dave Worthen

3 years ago #2

Hi Jerry Fletcher! That grizzled old speaker was a wise man! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #1

Dave, Imagine that feeling when you are on the platform and hundreds of people are responding to your words. It is why I've never forgotten a bit of advice from a grizzled old speaker, "Don't try to convince the ones that are obviously not getting it. Concentrate on those that are with you. They aren't just listening, they are understanding."

More articles from Dave Worthen

View blog
1 year ago · 6 min. reading time

Attention Theft: How to Remain at Cause Over The Hijacking of Your Own Mind

In the current environment you may sometimes feel ...

1 year ago · 3 min. reading time

Falling Head over Heels: A Crazy and Wonderful Somersault in Life...

If I asked you what you thought the term “head ove ...

1 year ago · 1 min. reading time

Refusing to Look: The One-Way Conversation in Your Head

Your partner, colleague, or friend is communicatin ...