How to Develop the Fine Art of Listening

Fine Art of Listening by Jann Alexander © 2014

Fine Art of Listening, Diffused by Jann Alexander © 2014


“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

Margaret Wheatley


Such a simple act, listening. Such a hard thing to do, though, isn’t it?

When I find it hard to listen, I make photographs. It’s easy to develop the art of listening with my iPhone (camera, that is). I’m looking, of course, but I’m also listening. And I’m imagining what’s being said, and why, and what the relationships are between the speaker and the listener. I’m observant, I’m imaginative, and I’m listening with my ears and my eyes.

After listening with eyes and ears, I post-processed these iPhone 5s photos on my iPad Mini. The app: Photo fx Ultra ($4.99 and worth it), using its diffusion filter (top image) and black-and-white (bottom right) filter to produce a few options. (The unfiltered, uncropped and color-corrected image is shown at bottom left.)

Ultimately, I selected the diffused image as the one to feature, because sometimes what you’re listening to isn’t exactly to your liking. That’s where diffusion comes in—as the listener, you’re free to diffuse what you hear. And in my imagination, this listener was politely listening, but really being lectured. And no matter how good a listener, no one likes to be lectured. 

How have you developed your listening style?

Hat tip to Sally at Lens and Pens by Sally for iPhoneography inspiration. Read more about iPhone photography HERE.

2 replies

  1. How to Develop the Fine Art of Listening – I had to share your blog with my grand parents who are married for over 61 years. I agree with you. 1) To Listen 2) To Compliment 3) To cherish and speak gently. These are added by grand parents for your great blog!!

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