Listening For Cues: How to Find Success by Radically Listening to Others

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Wanting to do better in your personal and professional life? The secret is listening for cues. Guest author Jesse Wilson explains it all.

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” ― Will Rogers, American Entertainer

How many times have you kicked yourself for not seeing the red flags in front of you when meeting a sucky person for the first time? I don’t know about you, but for me, far too many times to count.

Why are these scenes so painful in our memories (hopefully they stay memories)?

Because we weren’t listening.

Back up and replay the scene and then listen. Really listen to what you’re being told. Hear it?

Yes, when it comes to toxic relationships, they told you right up front just about everything you needed to know about them. They sucked at relationships. They didn’t trust anyone. They really didn’t like kids or animals. They loved playing but hated commitment. On and on and on. Seriously, they told you all that but where were you? Not listening. Or perhaps you were listening to what you wanted to hear… But that’s not really listening.

Listening for Cues

Listening For Cues
Photo: iStock

Listening is one of the key elements of theater. It’s the single most potent tool of moving a scene in a way that telegraphs the words, the feelings, the emotions of the story, the right story, that’s being told.

What the best stage and screen actors learn is that listening is about much more than listening with your ears. It’s about listening with your heart. With your body. With your entire being. But all the different ways to listen won’t mean a hill of beans if you’re not making this your primary listening goal: we must want to listen.

Do you really want to listen?

Actor or not, radical listening is a skill we can all learn and apply in every moment, and every “stage”of our lives.

Here are 3 simple and effective tips you can apply right now if you want to up your game in becoming a better listener.

1. Picture Yourself Without a Mouth

Literally. Imagine yourself without a mouth. Congratulations. Now you can’t talk. You’re forced to hear what is being said. Many great acting exercises involve two scene partners trying to communicate a scene to each other without speaking. Take away? You immediately slow down. And you listen at an even greater level because you have to. Poof. Your mouth is gone. Now listen.

2. Ask Yourself, “Do I really want to listen?”

We’ve already covered that one. But seriously, ask that question. And stick around long enough to try to listen to how you really feel about that question. Try not to judge it. Just listen. And by the way, it’s perfectly okay to have your first response be, “No way!”

3. Pay Attention

Read to a child and listen to what delights or scares them. Don’t just read the words… listen to the words. And their effect on your little listener. Your goal is not to preach or even teach but to listen… That is the lesson. And if you don’t have the time to read to a child… talk to a child. And listen to them. Let them take you into their magical world. And what’s as equally magical?

The art of listening. Because you want to listen.

A recent Gallup poll showed that roughly a third of the country doesn’t think there’s a problem with race relations. Whatever side of the political fence you’re on, this information suggests that many people aren’t grasping other people’s perspectives.

Everyone’s talking and no one’s listening.

What would it look like if we did?

It’s time to open your awareness of the world before you.

Open your heart.

And just listen.

You’ll be grateful that you did.

About the Author

Jesse Wilson, author of Listening for Cues, is a Communications Specialist, Human Connection Trainer, 2 time TEDx Speaker, Author, and Performer. The CEO of Tell The Winning Story, Jesse has taught hundreds of personal transformation workshops across the country, helping people make communication breakthroughs into their authentic selves. A Juilliard Theater Graduate, Jesse shares with audiences how the lessons from the stage can help ANYONE step into a much more powerful role when you can envision your greater role, and your greater story, waiting to take center stage. You can connect with Jesse Wilson at and