Listen First Academy

What exactly is listening?

Listen First Project defines listening as an action—the process of lending an ear to another person to take in and organize information, thereby learning from their perspective and formulating more productive arguments. Listening is personally attentive and responsive communication that leads to awareness, understanding, and empathy.

Our definition highlights that listening involves:

1.    A genuine desire or motivation to attend fully to the perspectives of others; 
2.    A range of behaviors that signal attention and interest; and
3.    Close attention to and processing of others’ points of view in an effort to understand.

Why should I care?

When done well, listening results in a range of positive outcomes including, but not limited to, increased respect, awareness, understanding, and relationship satisfaction.

Learning to listen requires constant practice and re-evaluation. It is an acquired art, not an inherited capacity, and we often fall short; just ask the last person with whom you interacted! Chances are, you did not listen to your fullest. Whether it was a co-worker, client, friend, spouse, or stranger, did you fully attend to their every word? Did you act as if that conversation was the only place you wanted to be? Were you fully present, free from distraction, and engaged to your fullest? Or, did your mind wander? Did your eyes scan the room to see who else was around? Were you tempted to check your cell phone or look at your watch? 

Being heard is so close to being loved 
that for the average person, 
they are almost indistinguishable.
— David Augsburger


Because you are human, the chances are rather good that you have performed below your listening potential at some point in the past 24 hours. The Listen First Project has developed materials that will assist in the cultivation of a Listen First attitude. Start by reviewing our Listen First Conversation Guidelines.

What do you mean by Listen First?

“Listen First” can be interpreted in different ways, all important to rebuilding civil discourse.

Listen first before talking
Listen first before pulling away from alternative ideas
Listen first before launching attacks
Listen first to understand rather than to reply

My friends & colleagues could use Listen First!

Great! Listen First Project has local chapters in schools, communities and workplaces. We also hold Listen First Means Business workshops for teams at work and will recognize Listen First Businesses who want to help us champion civil discourse. Please contact us to get started!

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Graham Bodie, PhD

Recognized Expert on Listening, Professor at Ole Miss