The Act of Listening

By: Rachel Theodora Appleton


There’s a prized lesson that I’ve learned early in life.

Through paying attention to my own experiences and relationships, I have learned that the act of listening is one of the most important skills one needs in order to succeed in life.

As a college student, the act of listening [or not listening] takes place every day in exuberant amounts.

We listen in the lecture halls, we listen to the authors of our books, and we listen to our friends and family. One way that to gain insight about our listening skills is to analyze our conversations.

On November 3 at Rutgers University, students came out to listen and learn from Brandon Stanton who is the creator of the popular blog Humans of New York. If you aren’t on social media you may not have heard about Humans of New York, which is not a surprise because most of his photographs are shared on news-feeds.

Stanton moved to New York City on a whim and began to photograph strangers on the street. He interviews them and posts their stories for everyone to read.

During his talk at Rutgers, Stanton emphasized how important it is to be “in the moment” and to be “real.”

According to Stanton, being in the moment means stopping the constant flow of thoughts in your head and fully listening to another person. Really making a connection. This is what he does every day.

People have trouble listening because they aren’t present in the moment. They’re focused on the hundreds of items racing around in their heads- their goals, motives, and plans.


No one can deny just how fast paced the world is, that’s why we need to pause and reconsider what it means to be a human. The human species has become who they are because of social interaction.

I notice just how little people listen by observing the people I know. Many arguments end up with two individuals going back and forth pledging their own thoughts. What would the world be if we stopped to listen to each other?

To listen doesn’t mean to agree, but it means making the effort to understand and respect each other’s thoughts.

The great Ernest Hemingway once said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

What greater gift is there to give during the holiday season, then giving your presence or perhaps a listening ear?


Pictures taken from google.

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