Deafness Teaches Us to Listen

Communication Empathy Respect


Effective listening is a core foundation for treating each other with respect. Dame Evelyn Glennie is a deaf percussionist and highly accomplished musician. But her most powerful impact and legacy will likely be teaching us how to really listen. Her video on is 32 minutes long but as described by TED viewers: “jaw dropping.”

Glennie teaches us to listen with our whole bodies and not to judge on the basis of shallow perception. Effectively listening to music and people requires us to FEEL the underlying vibrations. This involves patience, openness, and a genuine interest in receiving the melody and beat.

So, whether one enjoys Evelyn’s music or not, the act of listening with depth and real sensitivity is a powerful lesson for us all. We need to pause and ask ourselves what is the underlying vibration and message? This means being present and concentrating on the dialogue. An exchange of words is only part of the communication.

At work it helps to ask more questions in every interaction. Starting tomorrow, commit to genuinely asking for more understanding during every meeting or phone call.  The more we can model that behavior the better listeners we become.

Effective listening is a lifetime of practice and we have the newest member of the Character Hall of Fame to teach us: Evelyn Glennie.

with Character,