top of page

The Magic of Listening!

The Lost Art of Listening

‘Jay shares thoughts on the ‘power of listening!’

In life, interestingly, you can accomplish a lot just by listening. You can learn and be informed – but even more important, you can build human relationships. Everyone has a natural desire to be heard; to be understood. So, when you listen – fully concentrating, empathizing – and sometimes even feeling the vibes of the person you are listening to, you are showing an immense respect. Validating them – simply by listening. In these hectic times, when people are often in a rush – or totally distracted with their phones, social media and more – the person who actually listens stands out from the crowd and simply by listening, makes an immensely positive contribution to our collective well-being.

In a day and age where hyper-polarization seems to be the norm, where it rarely feels like anyone is really listening to each other, and instead where everyone seems to be shouting at each other, there’s a certain magic to moments when we feel heard or simply listened to. Imagine the last time you had a conversation with someone. Were both of you really listening to the words you shared with each other, or were you simply coming up with a response while each of you spoke? To take it one step further, imagine the last time you were having a conversation with someone about a topic you both disagreed on.

Most of us when asked would say that we’re good, active listeners. Yet it’s surprising to realize how rarely we attentively listen to one another when interacting. We allow ourselves to be distracted, preoccupied by other matters of importance, or thinking about what we’re going to say next. Or we listen passively without providing feedback or asking questions, even when we don’t really understand what is being communicated to us. One of the most difficult communication skills to learn is the ability to both respect the right of another to their opinion as well as consider it by being fully present.

When we listen actively, we’re demonstrating that we understand or empathize with the experience of another. Active listening involves the use of verbal and nonverbal cues to show that you are engaged and interested in what is being communicated. This can include things like nodding your head, maintaining eye contact, asking clarifying questions, and reflecting back on what you have heard. And not only that, when we take time to reflect on what others have said only once they’ve had a chance to speak, we’re indicating that we’ve truly been listening to what’s been said and not only hearing. It’s a way that allows conversation to go deeper, create new awareness around a topic, and most importantly, build trust and respect.

I’m reminded of a story about a small business owner who ran a printing company who resolved a conflict with a dissatisfied customer. One day the business owner received a complaint from a customer who was unhappy with the turnaround time on a service they had received. Instead of becoming defensive or dismissive, the business owner listened carefully to the customer's concerns and asked clarifying questions to ensure they understood the issue fully. He apologized for the inconvenience and offered to make things right by providing a refund and a discount on future services. The customer was impressed by the owner's willingness to listen and work to resolve the issue and ended up becoming a loyal customer as a result. The customer was so impressed with the owner’s willingness to listen and resolve the issue, he ended up becoming a loyal customer as a result.

In both these examples, being a good listener allowed the listener to establish trust and rapport with the speaker, and to better understand their needs and concerns. This, in turn, allowed them to work together to find solutions that were mutually beneficial. When we take time to listen to each other, life becomes more than a zero-sum game and of benefit to all. So, as you go into this next week – find some occasions to take the opportunity to really listen – and see what a wonderful difference it can make.

At the Eagle Times, We're Listening!

By Rich Girard, Sunshine Communications

Working in newspaper these days is a tough gig. Especially as lots of folks think it's an industry of the past, fading into irrelevance as it takes its place on the ash heap of history. Papers are shrinking, readership is falling, fewer are publishing. The handwriting, as the saying goes, is on the wall.

Or is it?

When Jay Lucas asked me to help him refocus and reinvigorate the once great Eagle Times newspaper, he shared his belief in how important a dynamic, viable media outlet was to the health and vibrancy of local communities. Having built a locally focused media outlet whose tagline was "News from our own backyard - connecting local people, places and things," I couldn't have agreed more.

As we talked about the possibilities, Jay asked me how I'd get started. "Simple," I said. "I'm going to listen to anyone and everyone who will talk to me about their hometown, the paper and how they see them both." Since I arrived in early January, that's exactly what I've done.

As I've made my way around the paper's circulation area, spoken with residents, business leaders, those who read the paper and those who don't, advertisers - past, present and future, elected officials and more, I have gotten an earful, many ears-full. Not all of it has been complimentary but all of it has been helpful.

As a result, many changes have already been made, some to the paper and many to how it functions. In industry terms, we're going "hyper-local." One person summed up what many had said when he told me, "I can get the national and world stuff anywhere and it'll probably be better than what's in the paper. What I can't find anywhere is anything about what's happening locally." It doesn't get any simpler than that.

We've also learned it's not just about relaying information, either. It's about interacting with our many audiences, engaging them in the process of finding and conveying news and making them part of the story. People want to be involved, to be heard, to be relevant. To that end, many more changes are coming to the Eagle Times as we must be relevant to meet these wants.

Listening has taught us that people really do want a reliable, dynamic, community-oriented media outlet they can call their own. To that end, we're transforming what we do and how we do it in response. Keep your eyes on the Eagle Times. Under its wings, you're going to find the many who want it to soar, helping it take flight once again to even higher levels of excellence and serving the community even better than before!

Polling – Listening to the Vibes of the Electorate

In a very real sense, political polling is all about ‘listening.’ And here in New Hampshire, the story of political polling is closely intertwined with the state’s role as the site of the First in the Nation Primary. This primary has been held in the Granite State since 1920, allowing New Hampshire voters to have an influential – and quite ‘outsized’ role in the selection of presidential candidates. Over the years, candidates have sought to understand the opinions of New Hampshire voters in order to craft their messages and develop their platforms. Listening to the voices of Granite Staters is crucial for any presidential candidate hoping to win the state’s primary and launch a strong presidential bid. The importance of understanding the opinions of New Hampshire voters has led to an increase in political polling in the state so that politicians can find a winning voice.

The University of New Hampshire has for some time conducted state-wide political polls, providing a comprehensive view of the state’s political landscape. Newer to the polling world, with a 2018 launch, is The New Hampshire Primary Poll conducted by Saint Anselm College. Together, the University of New Hampshire and Saint Anselm College polls have become an important part of the political process in New Hampshire. They provide candidates with a deeper understanding of the state’s voters and help them craft their messages accordingly. This is especially true in the months leading up to the primary, when candidates are making their final push to convince New Hampshire voters to support them.

Not to mention, doing well in these polls can give a candidate the critical boost necessary to emerge and break out from the pack! So, yes, you bet – candidates and their teams track these polls and the underlying messages about what voters are saying – very, very closely.

The importance of listening to the voices of Granite Staters is something that all candidates for President recognize. The New Hampshire Primary is a unique opportunity for candidates to connect with the state’s voters and demonstrate their understanding of the issues that matter most to them. Political polling in the state helps candidates to do just that. It allows them to get a better sense of the opinions of New Hampshire voters and craft their messages accordingly. In doing so, they can ensure that their messages are resonating with the state’s electorate and increasing their chances of success in the primary.

Positive Profile of the Week: Fritz Wetherbee and the Art of Storytelling, or is it Listening - or Perhaps Both?

This week we are delighted to highlight a great storyteller – and listener – who has informed and entertained us in the Granite State for many years – Fritz Wetherbee.

When it comes to the great art of listening, there is a tie-in to the great art of storytelling. One sign of a magnificent storyteller is their ability to capture an audience’s attention from the first instant and hold it right through. Keeping the account moving and engaging, this spinner of yarns is indirectly teaching people how to be good listeners.

Fritz Wetherbee is a wonderful example of this kind of chronicler. In fact, he has been telling tales on New Hampshire Chronicle for over 20 years, and several years on New Hampshire Crossroads before that. Altogether, he is celebrating 60 years in media, starting as the Theater Production Instructor for Nathaniel Hawthorne College. What is his secret to being so interesting?

First, he has to be interested in other people and their stories and have a genuine desire to get those narratives out and heard by others. He has to be an attentive listener himself. He needs to pay attention to many cues of what other people sharing their experiences would do to make their account appealing, or conversely, tedious and dull. One thing that has always caught my attention is when Fritz hits your curiosity and foreshadows that he will satisfy your interest. A great example of this is whenever he shares a short sentence like this one: “He was found on their doorstep, dead. I’ll tell you the story.”

Born one day before the 160th Independence Day in the United States, Fred Wetherbee later took on the German derived nickname of Fritz. His heritage here goes back to 1765 when John Wetherbee arrived in Boston. Prior to his civilian career in media, Fritz served in the US Army Special Services unit and placed 3rd out of 44,000 in an All-Army entertainment contest. As a result, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show with other soldiers. Not to be confused with the Special Forces, the Special Services was created in 1940 specifically to entertain the troops.

Several dozen well-known actors/entertainers got their start from that experience, not the least being Desi Arnez, Clint Eastwood, and Leonard Nimoy. An entertainer in his own right, let’s not forget that Fritz Wetherbee was among their ranks. He has won numerous awards, including New England Emmy’s, and has won the hearts of people of all ages throughout New Hampshire and beyond. Join me in honoring Fred “Fritz” Wetherbee as our Positive Profile of the Week!

Positive Quotes of the Week: The Power of Listening

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." - Stephen R. Covey

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." - Ralph G. Nichols

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl A. Menninger

"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less." – Diogenes

"The first duty of love is to listen." - Paul Tillich


bottom of page