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9 Ways You ARE Listening

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

#1 - You are listening to me when… You really try to understand me, even if I’m not making much sense.

You will ask clarifying questions

You’ll attempt to identify feelings

You’ll attempt to understand the problem if that’s what’s being expressed

You withhold your own judgments of the person and the situation

#2 - You are listening to me when… You grasp my point of view, even when it’s against your own sincere convictions.

You’re open to new ideas

You’re attempting to find common ground

You’re not threatened by ideas that contradict your own and don’t take it personally

#3 - You are listening to me when… You realize the hour I took from you has left you a bit tired and a bit drained.

Listening can be a marathon because we’re feeling along with that person

We’re experiencing not just words, but also the emotion of the speaker

Empathy can be draining!

If you’re tired, you did a good job of really listening

This is different than being emotionally abused or attacked through blame, shame or judgment or “whatever thing”

#4 - You are listening to me when… You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions, even though you think they may be wrong.

Dignity - the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect; a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

A listener does not allow dignity, they honor it, they recognize it

A listener understands and accepts they do not control someone else, including the thoughts and feelings of the person speaking

Understanding versus control is key in listening

Trusting the other person is able to make their own choices and live with the consequences of those choices

#5 - You are listening to me when… You do not take my problem from me but allow me to deal with it in my own way.

Same as the last one.

Trusting the other person to do the right thing.

Allowing the other person to make mistakes and learn from it.

Letting go of control.

#6 - You are listening to me when… You hold back the desire to give me good advice.

Unless asked.

Listening to the experience and emotion of someone is not the same as solving their problem

As we mentioned in the last episode about parents jumping to solve problems.

You have to be able to tolerate and hold the experiences of the other person

At the heart of therapy, joining with someone, holding it and allowing them to work their way up the polyvagal ladder with you also being a safe person

But you don’t have to be a therapist to hold space for another person

#7 - You are listening to me when… You do not offer me religious solace when I am not ready for it.

Or don’t want it

Human connection needs to happen first, imo

Connect with the person right in front of you, then the religious aspects can come into play

This goes back to your needs vs. their needs

If you are giving support to another person, then you are actively choosing to focus on their needs, not yours

#8 - You are listening to me when… You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.

This is part of the whole ‘not controlling’ part of listening

It involves trust

Someone is able to work their way up the ladder and make their own discoveries

Their thoughts will naturally change along the way, realizations will be made

This can be difficult to do, especially if you really care for the other person

#9 - You are listening to me when… You accept my gratitude by telling me how good it makes you feel to know that you have been helpful.

To build on last week’s.

Saying “you’re welcome” is great, but this is the next level.


Morning Justin & Mercedes,

I just wanted to drop in and say thank you for your fantastic podcast - it's been instrumental in the last few weeks since I've found you in changing how I parent my kids and interact with my partner. It's also lead me down the road of somatic healing and breathwork and I'm trying to learn more about these things. I started listening to you guys to learn how to help my 9 yo, ocd daughter move from flight to safe and social, specifically in school drop-offs, and have learnt so much more and I have so much more compassion for her struggle when she drops down the ladder. I live in South Africa and while $5 might not be a lot of money (or it might I have no idea what $5 can buy) in my own currency it's 14 times more as my country's economy sucks. I really believe in what the two of you are doing and am trying to spread the polyvagal gospel wherever I go and this way I can make a concrete contribution to this. Hope you have a lovely day and thank you again for the valuable role you play in my life and the lives of my kids and husband (who doesn't get polyvagal theory but seems to get that I'm trying harder to move up my ladder and help the kids move up theirs). Cheers - or as we say in my language of Afrikaans - “Totsiens” (which means till we see each other again),


Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats -

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