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Can't Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World by Paul Shoemaker

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Chapter 5Lori, I Got Married a Little Too Early to the Right WomanCan You Actively Listen?

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

— Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People1

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

My wife, Lori, has this incredible gift. It comes very naturally to her, just second nature, she was born with it. She is an incredible listener. Your first reaction to that might be “that's so nice, she must be so sweet” or something to that effect. Nope, you'd be missing the point. I think everyone can relate to that occasional experience when we meet or sit with someone who is a great listener, and I mean a truly, authentically deep listener. It is an empowering experience. You feel heard. You feel your own sense of personal power after spending time with a great listener. It's just one of the many reasons I am so madly in love with this woman after more than 30 years.

We got married when we were 21, which is kind of hard. You're just not a fully formed adult yet; I'm still working on it. But there were some things that just drew me inexorably toward her, and one of her beautiful traits was her ability to fully, authentically listen. A few months ago, we were driving around on a Saturday afternoon, running errands, and I asked Lori why she listens the way she does, what's her mindset? She gave me this matter of fact response: “because I want to hear and understand the other ...

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