I Hear You: A Must-Read Book for Stronger, Happier Relationships

Have you ever felt like someone was listening to you but not really hearing you—or worse, not even fully listening?

Maybe they were more looking through you than at you, just kind of zoning out, all the while nodding, as if taking in what you were saying, but not. Or even worse still, maybe they weren’t giving you any signs of engagement, but rather alternating between glances up at you and glimpses down at their phone.

It’s rare these days to get someone’s full attention, and even more difficult to end a conversation feeling truly heard and understood—as if the other person not only got what you were saying but also empathized with your feelings.

These are the kinds of conversations that fuel us, soothe us, and build stronger bonds, and yet they’re not easy to come by.

To some degree it’s because we all have a tendency to get wrapped up in our own problems and caught up in our own emotions. But it’s also because this is a skill we’re never taught.

In all our years of formal education, no one ever explores the art and power of listening, understanding, and validating other people.

And no one outlines what it looks, sounds, and feels like to communicate with focus and empathy so we can create the kind of deeply fulfilling connections that make everything in life feel more manageable.

I believe these are the kind of conversations that can change and even save lives.

When we feel heard and understood, we feel calmer, more confident, and more comfortable with our own feelings—which means we’re less apt to fall into self-destructive patterns as a means to escape them.

We also feel closer to the people who are validating us, since we know we can trust them and truly let them in to our complex inner workings.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you Michael Sorensen’s powerful new book I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships.

I consider myself a highly empathetic person, who naturally seeks to understand and validate others, and yet I still found this book to be tremendously valuable.

In just 137 pages, Michael has outlined everything we need to know to communicate empathetically, both in personal and professional relationships, which will enable us to:

  • Strengthen our connections
  • Minimize conflict and unnecessary drama
  • Provide support and encouragement when we don’t know how to fix other people’s problems
  • Help more than we could by offering unsolicited advice
  • Create relief in conversations that may have otherwise felt tense
  • Help others feel safe and loved
  • Become the kind of person everyone wants in their life

As a sleep-deprived new mother navigating the consuming world of parenthood with an equally exhausted partner, I’ve had plenty of recent experience communicating poorly.

If you’re a parent, you’re perhaps familiar with the frustration and resentment that can quickly build up as you’re establishing how you and your partner will carry this joyful-yet-heavy new load together.

It’s easy to fall into blame mode when you’re juggling more than feels manageable and sifting through a range of messy emotions, with only brief windows of relief.

I’ve ended many a conversation feeling both annoyed and guilty, and consequently, less connected to my partner than usual—at a time when I’d rather be basking in shared bliss.

But Michael’s book helped me see how he and I were invalidating each other, which kept us both stuck in frustration and defensiveness.

The crazy thing is that we both had good intentions and had no idea what we were doing to so consistently inflame each other. Our hearts were in the right place, but we constantly felt like we were saying the wrong things and just getting each other more upset.

Michael’s four-step validation method may be simple, but it’s powerful because it enables us to provide to the people we love the one thing we all want most: the comfort of understanding.

It won’t solve all of our problems or give us the power to solve everyone else’s, but it will help us create relief instead of adding to a growing sense of tension.

It won’t eliminate differences of opinion, but it can help us learn to hold another’s without invalidating our own.

I especially appreciate that Michael peppered the book with real-world examples to help us apply this formula in varied situations. It’s easy to understand something intellectually but far more difficult to put it into practice, especially when emotions are running high. In tandem, the steps and examples shared in the book can serve as a wonderful blueprint for avoiding and defusing difficult conversations, even when navigating overwhelming feelings.

I don’t read many books these days because my time has become far more limited, but I’m glad I added I Hear You to my reading list. It’s a quick read that I know will have a long-lasting impact on my relationships and my life, and I suspect it can do the same for you.

If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, you can get one on Amazon here.

**Though this is a sponsored post, with an affiliate link, you can trust that I only promote products and services I truly believe in. As my review conveys, I Hear You fits the bill!

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and co-producer of the newly launched podcast Next Creator Up, which helps people overcome their blocks and create what they want to create. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal and other books and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here.

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Team Wellness (Because My Biz Is Only as Healthy as My People)

Part of how Team D stays healthy — and we are getting better and better at our own wellness — is we stay in touch and celebrate our “other life” stuff. I figured out long ago that if we’re each doing non “work” things, and PRIORITIZING WELLNESS, then we’re not just more productive, but we’re more effective. And by effective I mean we’re SMARTER and DEEPER.

The more we play and rest, the better our ideas. Solutions are right in front of us. When we’re overworked, it’s like we make more work for ourselves by holding on too tightly.

Play. Step away. Come back to it refreshed and fed. Here’s some inspiration…

Be well,
D xo

PS. And! While all of us on the team are doing wonderful and weird things, please give a special round of applause to our very own Nikki Bonsol, who, in all her spare time, RELEASED HER FIRST SINGLE and MUSIC VIDEO. We are blown away. Her first track “Be A Little Lonely” is the best catchiest breakup empowerment song ever. You will be singing it all summer long.

Stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.


What Team D did on our break…

“While we were on break, I released my first single + music video. Instead of throwing a big (stressful) bash, I leaned into one of my Core Desired Feelings, Kin, and decided to host an intimate watch party with friends and family. Mom and sis came in from Calgary. So many of my local favorite people got to meet each other. I don’t need a million likes, or views, or to pack a stadium to feel like a rockstar. It was JOY.” – Nikki Bonsol, Copy + Editorial

“I rented a house on Bodega Bay for a few days. The perfect place to bird watch. Bird watching is my new thing—it’s a mindfulness practice that brings me out of my thoughts and into nature. When I am really paying attention to the bird world around me, I feel so much closer to God and the planet. So much awe and delight and curiosity emerge.” –

Angie Wheeler, Chief Creative Officer

“Some highlights from the break:

Riding on my scooter. The BEST investment for summer. I ride it like a vitamin, once a day for best results!

I feel most close to myself + the divine when I am near water + trees. So I had lunch at the ocean and swam in the lake.

Treating my home like the sacred space it is. I love to invest in supplies that make my house feel cleaner + homey. Like a non-toxic clean and beeswax candles.” – Renee Masur, Director of Desire Map

“I went to the farmer’s market, read, did some yoga, and caught up with friends over some great food and a nice seawall stroll.” – Toni Scott, Finance

“I spent the days in the garden with my pup, HUCK. We hand make food

baskets for less fortunate families in the community.

Huck and I deliver them together. He brings the snuggles, I bring the food. <3 It’s humbling to see such a small act of kindness, bring so much joy and hope to another. The evenings were spent BBQ’ing nourishing meals, listening to our fave tunes, and laying in the gazebo as the golden sunset settled above. Grounding, healing, and soul-gratifying.”
Dee Bailey, Director of Operations

Long road trips and the scenery. I honestly can be on the road all day, as long as it’s me driving :)” – Jenn Rose Orajay, Operations & Product Management

“I got loads of inspiration for our front yard renovation at the Morikami Japanese gardens! Also worked on branding and setting up a renovation blog to keep our family and friends updated with the latest. Hopefully launching it next month, woo!” – Katie Zupan, Graphic Designer

“It finally occurred to me that rather than failing at vegetable growing, I could GROW FLOWERS! And so I am. In my yard. And it’s giving me so much joy. It’s a small revolution in my life. I’m travelling a bit less this year and my heart and body are so happy to sit in my backyard, talking to the dahlias. No due dates, just flora and fauna conversations.” – Danielle

Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries. Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.

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Sometimes the Best Laid out Plans…

We just returned from an amazing family vacation to Florida. We have been to Florida many times, but in all of our visits, I realized that we have never gone snorkeling. My kids have snorkel goggles and swim around the pool in them, but they have never gone ‘real’ snorkeling, like on a boat, with a group, in official snorkel gear. I decided this was the year!

I did a ton of searching and found ‘the best’ snorkeling was in the Florida Keys. Awesome! I love the Keys, snorkeling is ah-maz-ing, it would make a super fun day trip, so I booked it!! We usually just play everything by ear on our vacations, so this was the only thing we planned.

We woke up early for the three-hour car ride. I loaded my purse with Dramamine, packed our bags, found an awesome place to stop for lunch further down the Keys (maybe another 45-minute drive), packed up the car and the kids, and headed for our most awesome adventure!

So exciting!

I had great visions of driving the whole way with the top down on our rented Jeep, but my idea was shot down by my always level-headed hubby…’ too hot, too windy, too sunny’ for a three-hour car drive. OK, no big deal. Three hours later we made it to Key Largo with the top up and the AC cranked on high. This was gonna be great!

We got to the snorkel place, checked in, and drove to our launch spot. Clouds started rolling in, but who cares? According to Accuweather, it was going to be clear skies all day. A few clouds won’t ruin this day!

We got on the boat and listened to the safety speech. Well, I tried to listen to the speech. I was too distracted trying to figure out if the lady in the front of the boat was yelling at her kid in Russian or just talking really loudly at him!

I did catch something about the weather and big waves. Hmm, not important I’m sure.

Off the boat went to the Gulf of Mexico to THE best snorkel spot in Florida! I noticed the clouds getting darker and the waves getting bigger. No problem! I was loaded up with Dramamine. I could handle anything!

About 20 minutes later, we arrived at our snorkel spot. By now the clouds were black, the waves were high, and the boat was rocking…a lot. We got our snorkel gear on very carefully (flippers are not easy to put on, but add a really rocking boat and it’s almost impossible!)

There was a ladder on the boat, but the waves were so high that people were falling off the ladder, so we decided to just jump in. Here we go!! Snorkeling!

My husband took my 13 and 15-year-old, so the eight-year-old and I stayed together. Immediately I was freaking out. The waves were so high they were going over my daughter’s head. Although we had on life vests, hers was riding up and it didn’t look very inflated. I made sure we were holding hands but the waves kept knocking us apart. She lost her flipper. Her mask didn’t fit so she took it off. I was trying to hold her flippers, her mask, and her hand while she kept getting pushed under by the waves. This was not what I envisioned! Worst of all, we were only about four minutes into the tour. We still had 56 more minutes to go.

We got back on the boat to readjust (along with about 50% of the other people on the tour.) We got our gear adjusted and went back out. By this time my older daughter found us and she was not looking well. We attempted to snorkel again, but this time we lasted about two minutes and climbed back on the boat. Our mouths were full of saltwater, stomachs churning, and nerves frayed. This did not look like the pictures on the website!

About halfway into the tour, my hubby and son came back on the boat too. It was too much for both of them. About 30 minutes into the trip and at least 90% of the people were back on the boat looking about as green as my daughter (who was doing everything in her power NOT to puke.) Finally, it was time to head back. We sailed back in the rain as I listened to my husband sing the tune to Gilligan’s Island (this did make me laugh, a little bit.)

Everyone just wanted to quickly grab something to eat and get the hell out of there and go back to our little rented home. The Florida Keys kicked our asses.

I was so disappointed. I researched, planned, spent a lot of money, drove a long way, spent more money on the underwater camera, had amazing visions that our adventure would look just like it did online. This sucked.

The next day we happened to go to a little fishing town close to our house that my husband somehow heard about. There, we found a little bar. It just so happened that this bar was closing for the season and this was the last day it was open. There was a big party going on with a band. We sat down and listened to the band and had a few drinks. Then, we ran into the one person we knew in Florida and he introduced us to his friends. We hung out, laughed, drank, ate, danced, sang, the kids sat on his boat, we had fun. So much fun. Just by chance.

It was awesome.

I am not sure what the moral of the story is…I guess sometimes the best laid out plans suck and those little moments that happen just by happenstance end up being the best.

Whatever you do today, tomorrow, next week, or next year, life is all about creating memories. (Well, if you are a parent then it is really about creating memories and laughing more than you yell!)

Remember, even if things don’t go as planned, those are usually the things you can look back on and laugh at the most.

Surrender some control and you may find yourself somewhere amazing, somewhere you never thought you would be, having the most fun with people you never would have met!

Have a crazy story when something didn’t quite go as planned? Or, an awesome serendipitous moment? We’d love to hear about it! Drop a comment!

Lisa Wyckoff is a Confidence and Mindset Coach. She helps women step into their confidence, shift their mindset, connect with Spirit, discover their True Magnificence and transform their lives. You can read more articles, or find out about working with Lisa on lisawyckoff.com or follow her on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Ishan @seefromthesky.

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