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Great Father Tip #8: Listening and a man named Peggy

September 30, 2011

Don’t you love the Discover card commercials that start out “USA prime credit, this is Peggy”?  I find these commercials hilarious, but also thought provoking.  Peggy’s main problem is that he is not a good listener.

How many of you men have been told you are “insightful” or a “great speaker”?  I bet the answer is quite a few.  Next question.  How many of you men have been told that you are a “great listener”?  I bet the answer is only a few.  It is possible for all of us to become great listeners, but it takes some work.

There are three basic levels of listening. As I describe the levels, consciously think about where you spend most of your time.  Level I listeners are Hearers.  These men physically hear what the other person is saying, but they are so busy constructing their next response, they are not really listening closely.  Hearers show up at meetings all the time.  Someone gives a impassioned plea that deserves some type of acknowledgement or response and the next person speaking totally changes the subject, because they are listening at Level I.  We do this with our kids when we are merely waiting for them to stop talking, so we can make our next point.  Level I listeners tend to leave people feeling invalidated and frustrated.

Level II listeners are Exact Word listeners.  These men are really trying to hear the exact words that are being said, before they respond.  These men can get stuck or fixated on certain words and easily miss the meaning that the other person has for them.  Ever had the conversation where your spouse is really upset and they uses the phrase, “You never clean up!!!”  You immediately point out the one time you have cleaned up in the last month.  How does that go over?  Not well, I imagine.  The problem with Level II listeners is they only hear words and do not read the emotion behind the words.

Finally, Level III listeners are empathetic and intuitive.  These men listen carefully to the words being spoken, but also read the body language and tone of the speaker.  These men instantly sense when their child or spouse is upset and focus on the emotion being expressed and respond to it rather than just the words being spoken.  Intuitive listeners consistently are able to read between the lines and meet people at an emotional level.  Next time you are in an intense conversation, stop and ask, “What is the emotion behind the words?” and respond to it and see what happens.

When we listen at Level III, we connect with people at a deeper level and avoid the problems of a man named Peggy.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL. Contact him at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 8:48 am

    I hear what you’re saying.

    See what I did there?

    Seriously, though. I like this post a lot. My young dudes seem to be stuck permanently in Level I mode. Or worse, Sarcasmo, my oldest, has been making forays into Level II and then acting — exactly — on the words. You’re right. Annoying is an understatement.

    Anyway, great post. Thanks.

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