In the book, The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, the authors convey a story told to them by comedian and actor Michael Pritchard about a young girl in the third grade. Here's the story:
"He (Michael) was making a presentation at a local elementary school (at the time he was a probation officer), and he got to talking with a third grader. When he asked her what she'd been learning, she responded that she'd been learning sign language. Michael was, as we were, intrigued. Sign language? Kids don't typically learn sign language in the third grade. So he asked how she got started on that educational adventure.
"The young girl explained that her best friend since first grade couldn't speak and couldn't hear. So she asked her mom if she could learn sign language to communicate with her friend. Her mom agreed. Now, the young girl said, 'I listen with my eyes and my heart, not just my ears and my brain.' All leaders can learn from this third grader. Listening with the eyes and the heart, not just the ears and the brain, requires a deeper level of paying attention and understanding. It requires that we hear the heart and see the soul.
"...The third grader in Michael's story learned the language of another to strengthen their relationship."
It's a either a profound concept for a third grader or a simple concept that is oddly profound for us. When was the last time you listened to your client or colleague with your eyes and your heart? I'm going to try it! I hope you will as well.