Chapter 1

Listen Like Leitha

At the University of Notre Dame, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Leitha Lewis, housekeeper of O'Neill Hall dormitory. She took the time to introduce herself and referred to us as her babies. When we first met, I thought this was just her way of introduction and didn't think anything of it, until I saw her days later.

She would greet each student with a smile—and not just any smile, a real smile. You know how some smiles look uncomfortable? Ms. Leitha's smile radiated sincerity and understanding, two very important traits of listening. She always listened to students, not with just an ear, but with both eyes, reflecting back their feelings. She also demonstrated other skills that made her a great listener.

After graduation and reflecting on what I had learned at Notre Dame, I discovered that the most powerful lesson came from her. Ms. Leitha taught me how to become an excellent listener, someone who could be “in the moment” when listening.

In this chapter, Ms. Leitha's name is an acronym for how to become a better listener:

L: Liking
E: Eyes, empathy, encouragement (oh my!)
I: “In the moment,” “I am not the focus”
T: Time and take notes
H: Head and heart
A: Another time


Have you ever noticed when listening to someone that the more you like the person, the better listener you become? We listen better when we actually like the person; in fact, liking the person even makes it easier to remember that person's name and the conversation.

Do you ...

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