We are born with two ears and one mouth for a reason. As my grandmother often pointed out, it was to listen first. I must admit, I can be a terrible listener. Just ask my friends. I get easily distracted by a phone, a text or my own desire to speak.

Professionally, I listen for a living, as most of us do, which is the other side of my coin. I do still find myself guilty of not listening with the intent to understand, but rather with the desire to respond. The fact that I am self-aware of this allows me to work on it. That is why I write this: to address the matter and hope we can all become better listeners.

The best thing to do in any situation is to listen, which can be difficult. Many factors can inhibit our ability to listen effectively to those around us. There is no secret formula to learning this skill, no plan exactly, but to just practice. Listen in class, to friends and to family—don’t look for a response, but really listen. It’s OK to respond, but make your responses questions about what you heard and observed. Listening can go a long way and it can change your relationships. By taking some simple steps, we can allow our relationships to grow by hearing what is being relayed to us.

In today’s society, with all the noise that surrounds us, this simple concept often gets lost. We as people and as residents of this great city, can start making a difference with our friends and loved ones by listening more. Some helpful ideas about being better listeners: Put down the phones, look people in the eye, understand what someone is going through by hearing them, become an advocate for a cause or just listen to be a better spouse. (Love you, Jamie.)

As children we are taught to listen to teachers and adults. Youths listen to learn, grow and expand their minds. They listen to engage in dialogue and become active in class and in society.

As we grow, we tend to listen less. People have more to say, more to bring forward and especially more to think about. In this world and in our community, we just need to take a moment and listen to those around us in our daily lives. Really listen. I promise, relationships will deepen, friendships will grow and the people closest to you will love you even more.

Are you with me?


Mayor Joshua Rydell was born in Buffalo, New York; he moved to Florida after receiving his Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware. He moved to Broward County and attended Nova Southeastern University where he received his Juris Doctorate Degree. Rydell is principal attorney with The Law Offices of Joshua D. Rydell, with a focus in criminal and civil litigation as well as administrative professional representations.