Occupation of Listening

If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” Robert Baden-Powell

How many of us think we’re good listeners? I, for one, would like to think I’m a good listener – but, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve valued getting my point across and winning far more than I have listened. And it’s gotten me in trouble. It’s hurt my relationships. It’s taught my kids just to be louder in trying to get their point across and it’s made me feel disconnected from myself. Listening to others is one of the most powerful relationship tools we have – yet, most of us don’t value it nearly enough. We listen to get our point across, to be heard or to dig up the past just to shut someone up – especially if we don’t like what we’re hearing. We even listen in anticipation – thinking we know what someone will say which then causes us to miss the point entirely. It’s not that most of us don’t want to listen – it’s just that we’re busy or get tired of hearing the same story. Yet, if we want to have really solid relationships with others, it’s time we listen with all of our attention on the present moment. Listening should be an occupation. Something we devote our whole heart and mind to. It should be a priority over sharing our point. Imagine instead of having to tell your spouse that he too has done something wrong (like leaving the toilet seat up for the umpteenth time), that you give him the time and energy to hearing everything he has to say is bothering him now. That you observe his body language or his words and fully. Instead of diving into the same fight you’ve had over and over, really listening could be enough to change the course of conversation. Even though many of us have been trained that winning means getting in the last word, silence might actually be the key to gaining everything you’ve been looking for in all of your relationships.

Weekly Path to Peace: Make listening your new occupation.

  • Are you listening? How about the people around you? Spend some time observing how much or how little you listen. Do you wait until others are complete or do you interrupt them – thinking you know what they’re going to say. Do you automatically respond or do you take the time to acknowledge the words others say? Make observation a priority early this week.
  • Practice listening and staying in the present moment. When you hear yourself formulating a response, clear your mind. Wait. Let the other person complete their thought and acknowledge what you’ve heard. Decide if you agree or can see their perspective before you respond. Notice too how differently your conversations go this week as you practice this with your partner, co-workers, friends and children.

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change. 


Each year I pick a word to lean into that I believe will improve my life. For example, I spent an entire year leaning into weakness because I knew what it was like to always be strong, so I decided to see what it mean to own weakness. During that year, I learned to ask for help and take down the super woman mask. This year, I am leaning into listening. I am great at arguing. I’m a lawyer – it comes with the territory. So, this year, I am going to learn the lessons of what listening so that I can discover the next layer of me! What’s your word? Click Here and share with me on Facebook what is your word of the year!