"be all ears" = very willing and interested in listening

"Listen. Tell me about the problem. I'm all ears."

"fall on deaf ears" = having your ideas ignored by others

"I always share my feelings with my coworkers, but my ideas always fall on deaf ears."

Honey. Are you listening?

Want to Tell People About This Listening Activity?

1. Pre-Listening Exercises

If you have a problem in you life (with money, a girlfriend, or with your grades in school), who do you talk to first: your mom, your dad, a brother or sister, or a friend? What are your reasons for talking with this person?

HELPFUL TIP : We have two ears and one mouth for a good reason---so we can listen a lot more than we talk.

2. Listening Exercises
Listen to the conversation and answer the questions.
1. What is the problem at the woman's workplace?
A. The business is going to fire workers.
B. The company is going to cut salaries.
C. The president is going to close stores.

2. The woman ______________ to help her husband learn the art of listening.
A. found a few Web sites
B. picked up a book
C. watched a TV program

3. The first skill of listening that the woman points out is to ________.
A. watch a person's body language
B. not cut in on a conversation
C. make meaningful comments

4. The second point is to ________________.
A. put aside distractions
B. bring up similar concerns
C. smile and nod politely

5. According to the final point, some people who are experiencing issues in their lives don't want others to _______ their problems.
A. debate
B. solve
C. share

6. What is the husband going to do with his wife to improve his listening skills?
A. They are going to attend marital counseling.
B. They are going to go on a trip in a couple of days.
C. They are going to discuss the information in the book.


1. The business is going to fire workers.
2. picked up a book
3. not cut in on a conversation
4. put aside distractions
5. solve
6. They are going to discuss the information in the book.


Wife: Hi. Hi Sweetie. I'm home. Um, I'm home!

Husband: Oh, hi honey. Welcome home. How was you day? [ Well . . . ] That's good.

Wife: It was terrible. The company is going to lay off about 50 people, and I might be one of them.

Husband: Oh, that's nice.

Wife: That's nice? You're not even listening.

Husband: What?

Wife: So, what did I tell you?

Husband: Um, you said that the company . . . something about 60 employees, um . . . and you might be one of them . . . or something like that.

Wife: No, that's not what I said. [ Oh? ] The problem is you never listen. Never! So look. I bought you this book. Here. Read it.

Husband: What? Now what? Big Egos, Little Ears: Getting Your Husband Out of the Clouds. What's this? What? And you paid $35 dollars for it?

Wife: No. YOU did. I used YOUR credit card.

Husband: Oh, whatever. Um, so, what great secrets does the book containthat I don't know already?

Wife: Okay. First of all . . . .

Husband: Okay. I know, I know. I know what you're going to say.

Wife: No, you DON'T know. The first thing is not to interrupt and think you know what I'm going to say. Hold your tongue for once and give me a chance to share my feelings before you come up with some witty response.

Husband: Okay. I got it . . . I think.

Wife: I hope. Number two. Show me that you're listening. Stop checking Facebook while I'm talking to you, turn off the TV, look me in the eyes. Anything to show me that you're paying attention.

Husband: Right. Uh, so what's for dinner?

WifeTsk . . . see!

Husband: [ Laughing ] I'm sorry. I'm just joking.

Wife: It's not funny. It's not funny!! So QUIT LAUGHING!! And don't tell me what to do to fix my problems either. Most of the time, I don't need solutions. I just need you to listen to my feelings.

Husband: Okay. I guess I haven't listened enough, [ No. You don't listen very much. ] and I haven't shown much empathy [ No. ] And, well, how about if I read a couple of chapters and then we talk about it? Is that okay?

Wife: Yeah. That would be nice. Thank you.

3. Post-Listening Exercises

What are some reasons why people don't seem to listen very well? Do (Did) you feel that your parents listen to your own concerns and problems? Why or why not?

4.  Online Investigations

Use the Internet to find out at least three points that help people develop their listening skills better. Discuss these ideas with a partner. Think about yourself and identify how many of these skills you do or don't do well and what you plan to do (if anything) to improve your listening.

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