Image for post
Image for post

The Open Mind — in one ear and out the other

Pip Reid
Pip Reid
Jul 22, 2016 · 6 min read

I’m listening — are you?

Have you ever been listening to someone and when they’ve finally finished speaking, looked blankly and wondered, what on earth did they just say?

Have you ever been introduced to someone and immediately thought, what was their name?

Have you ever thought “Oh Sinnerman, where you gonna run to?”…I HAVE

embarrassing moments

I clearly remember an embarrassing moment when I went to introduce my sister’s boyfriend of a year or so to someone at a school formal — I could not for the life of me remember his name — he was a bit forgettable from memory, but shouldn’t have been that forgettable! I was mortified — can’t imagine how he felt.


By definition — active listening occurs when you focus on the message you’re receiving from the speaker, without thinking about what you want to say next. You have understood the message the other person wants to impart.

These days it seems the majority of job advertisements call for applicants to be active listeners. Interesting — and such a great skill to be an active listener — especially when you’re talked over, preached to, and told constantly by the other person they don’t have time to listen to you because “they’re too busy”. It doesn’t seem surprising then when you do switch off, albeit it mid-sentence of someone’s sermon.

Have a look at job advertisements, better still be in that role — the expectation of this superhuman person having a multitude of multi-tasking skills, including being an ‘active listener’ — active lisenting is not a multi-tasking skill. It’s super easy when a deadline is looming and you’re trying to get an important proposal out the door and the other person is lounging in your visitor chair opposite you telling you how busy they are — and to top it — sprouting their approach to this sort of task! YES, I do see how important it is to be an active listener — just not right at this moment in time!

An interesting Blog by Scott Parsons titled “Why Active Listening is the Most Important Skill for Producers” states “listening is pleasure” — music to my ears.

Even more alarming is that almost 50% of Spotify streams are skipped before the song even finishes.

Fantastic Mr Fox

Are you listening to me!?

Do YOU understand in order to “move the needle” (my next Blog) you do need to be an active listener?

Listening is the most powerful way to connect with someone else — and in nature with something.


Returning to the ‘Sinnerman’…my favourite place to run to as a child was the fir trees. I would sit under the fir trees and listen to them sing. When I was running away from home I would run as far as the fir trees. When I was escaping my grandmother’s wrath I would run to the fir trees — and yes, I would lie amongst the pine needles and listen to the fir trees sing — I would actively listen to every note they sang.

Active listening makes it possible to learn from any sound

The wind in the trees is the forest’s mystical voice — for me it’s a way in which nature restores my faith. Take an hour or so, lie beneath some fir trees and listen to them sing — each tree is unique and each tree sings its own song. We can’t see wind — however, we can see the things the wind moves and we can hear wind when it flows passed something and makes it vibrate — “pines are the best interpreters of wind” (A Wind Storm in the Forests of the Yuba by John Muir, 1878).

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) described the sound of wind in “A Day of Sunshine”:

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument

Listening requires focus — focussing on the tone of the spoken word, the type of language used, the body language and even more importantly the “non-verbal messages”. In other words, your perception and understanding of what is being said depends on the effectiveness of your listening. Why have fir trees captured the interest of naturalists more than any other tree species? When fir trees sing you cannot help but be moved, mesmerised and fall under their spell — “nothing is better suited to wind than fir trees”.

For me, the fir tree is the best active listener in nature — I remain in awe.


“…I don’t care how many royal arseholes have sat in this chair…”

King George VI: Listen to me.*Listen to me!*
Lionel Logue: Listen to you? By what right?
King George VI: By divine right, if you must. I am your King.
Lionel Logue: No, you’re not. You told me so yourself. You said you didn’t want it. Why should I waste my time listening…?
King George VI: Because I have a right to be heard! I have a voice!
Lionel Logue: [pauses] Yes, you do.

Are YOU an active listener?

  • do you pay attention and give the speaker your undivided attention?
  • do you do more listening than talking?
  • do you allow the other person to speak freely without interrupting?
  • what message does your body language convey to the speaker?
  • do you provide feedback?
  • do you show empathy?
  • do you defer judgment?
  • is your response appropriate?

Reflective Questioning — clarity of what has been said

An article by ACECQA titled “The journey towards critical reflection” states—

Our daily reflections in action deepen when we become more purposeful in our engagement


I have been listening…one step at a timeone stroke at a timeone word at a time…and of course — one bite at a time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my Blog and for being part of my journey

Are YOU an active listener?
Is YOUR perception the same as the other person’s perception of YOU?


If you liked these words please recommend by clicking on the AND/OR leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store