Posts Tagged ‘wizard of oz’


Listening Lessons from Oz: The Wizard of Oz Approach to Listening

March 1, 2009
[Edited and republished from June 23, 2008]

In my closing remarks [from the 2006 International Listening Association conference], as outgoing ILA president, I spoke about the listening lessons of the The Wizard of Oz, pointing out what we can learn from the story and each of its characters.

First, of course, was Dorothy, who clarified her perspective by listening to others as she tried to find her way home. 

The Cowardly Lion struggled for courage, and listening definitely takes courage. “When we ask a question, we must be prepared to listen to the hard stuff, too, not just what we want to hear.” 

Scarecrow, in search of a brain, knew the value of listening and the hazards of over-talking. In answer to Dorothy’s question, “How can you talk if you don’t have a brain?” Scarecrow replies, “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” 

The Tin Man, in searching for his heart, realized through listening to others that he had what he wanted and needed all along. In fact, they all did—which also became a lesson in inward listening. 

They also learned a hard lesson from the Wizard, who was not aware of his impact as a role model or how urgently he was counted on to listen to and help others. 

Listening is a journey, and everyone’s Yellow Brick Road has roadblocks and potholes along the way and a cast of characters with their own struggles.

Wicked, the back story of the Wizard of Oz [describing the lives of the Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, and Galinda, the Good Witch] teaches a number of listening lessons, as well, related to assumptions, prejudice and friendship. The powerful tales of Oz serve as a fitting reminder of my message throughout my term as ILA president: “There is power in listening.”

  • Reprinted from the International Listening Association’s Listening Post, July 2006

For the original mindmap I created (using Inspiration concept mapping software), see the PDF of Listening Lessons from Oz Mindmap. The mindmap includes Toto, too!


Photo Credit: The Wicked Witch of the East, originally uploaded to Flickr by *Dragonfly*


Give the Gift of Listening

December 24, 2007

Consider for a moment a variation on an early scene from my favorite movie of all time, the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz:

Aunt Em: Why don’t you find a place where [you will be listened to]!
Dorothy: A place where [I will be listened to]. Do you suppose there is such a place Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain.

What can I give my family and friends for Christmas? This lament is likely to be heard around the globe as people struggle with gift choices for their hard-to-buy-for loved ones. Here’s an idea for you: become someone who is known for listening to your loved ones. And then, really, truly, deeply listen to them. Make this commitment to them in writing. The feeling of being listened to is one that will last long beyond the mayhem of Christmas morning.

Especially for close friends and family members, consider spending some private time with them and interviewing them about their lives. StoryCorps, “an independent, nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening,” suggests questions you can ask to help you get started. (You can use their Question Generator to create a customized list of questions, or simply use their Question List.) Or, you may want to ask several of the questions around the dinner table rather than focusing all the questions toward one person. You’ll be surprised at some of the things you never knew. The more you know, the richer your relationships will be.

And if you want to go one step further, try one of these ideas, too:

At least for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, remember to “whole-face listen” to those you are spending time with. They’ll appreciate it. And you’ll become closer to them in the process.