In September, I was invited to speak to a gathering of the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

As an association member was preparing my name tag, he asked how I should be described. Since I was going to be addressing the group, the logical answer might have seemed to be “speaker.”

But, really, my career has been weighted much more heavily on the receiving end—more than anything else, I’ve been a professional listener.

So I asked that “Listener” go on my tag, and the association member obliged.

This comes to mind this morning as I read about Studs Terkel, and his remarkable legacy of drawing out stories from a wide spectrum of individuals.

Studs, who passed away this week at 96 years old, set an example that we should all strive to emulate, whether it’s capturing stories as I do with my service known as Spotlight Tribute or simply paying respectful attention to anyone and everyone, even if our self-absorbed and preoccupied inclination is to think they probably don’t have much of interest to share.

When I speak, I rarely learn a thing—beyond the fact that I’m reminded I ought to do it more succinctly. But when I listen, I rarely come away without picking up some helpful food for thought.

Listening–truly listening–is at the heart of “PAVE The Way to Powerful Communication,” one of the services on the training front that I have developed in recent years. Here’s the PAVE foundation:

Practice active silence–be a sincere audience
Ask engaging questions–find out what makes people tick
Value all people–everyone has a story to share
Expand your comfort zone–you may be surprised by what you learn

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