Listening to understand

A few weeks back I was doing a morning meditation on Insight Timer (thank you to Leo Ardine for the referral). During a 30 day meditation (that Jill recommended) there was a course on listening. This resonated with me. Not because I’m a good listener, but because it is something I struggle with. The idea was listening to understand and not listening to respond.

It made me think of many of the thought leaders who have been on The CUInsight Experience podcast. So many have spoken about listening more and talking less. Many have said it was something they wished they had earlier in their career.

Listening more to understand was something that I started working on. It was harder than you may think. I found myself coming up with my responses to what people were saying while they were still talking. And even worse I was coming up with answers to questions they weren’t even asking. I started to realize this was true at home with Jill and Crosby, on the phone with my sister, mom and dad, in conversation with colleagues at CUInsight, and even while having conversations with the guests on the podcast

And then the murder of George Floyd happened. The protests and conversation about racism in our country were front and center. I am aware of the privilege I have. I am aware that I will never completely understand the fear so many Americans live with everyday. Over the past week I have kept coming back to that meditation on listening to understand. When I hear the family of Mr. Floyd, I try to intentionally listen to understand. When I watch the protests on the news, I try to intentionally listen to understand. When I have a conversation with a friend or colleague about the state of our country and systematic racism, I intentionally try to listen to understand.

I may be a slow learner. I’ve said many times I’m the guy who touches the stove and then needs to touch it one more time before I learn that it’s hot. I now hear so many of the voices of past guests on the podcast who have said listening is one of the traits of strong leadership. 

To be a better leader and maybe even a better human, try on that intentionality. Listen to understand, not to respond. See how it feels.

I think you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall Smith is the co-founder of, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust. As one of the co-founders of CUInsight he looks ... Web: Details