Listen and Concentrate

It is impossible for me to even estimate the number of times I hear couples in my office say their partner doesn't listen or understand. Often both people will say it. As my practice is in Silicon Valley, home of some of the brightest people on the planet, one would think understanding would come easier. Maybe it has to do with the ability to listen and concentrate.

So I'll give you a test to check your powers of concentration.

This simple little test comprising of four questions will determine your thinking ability. Your replies must be spontaneous and immediate, with no deliberating or wasting time.


1) Imagine you are competing in a race, and you overtake the runner who is in second place. In which position are you now?

Answer: If you answered that you're now coming first then you're wrong. You overtook the second runner and took their place; therefore you're coming second. Better luck next time..

2) If you overtake the last runner, what position are you now in?

Answer: If you answered second-last, once again you're completely wrong. Think about it…How can you over take the person coming last? If you're behind them then they can't be last. It's impossible – a trick question.

Anyway, here's another one. Don't take any notes or use a calculator, and remember your replies must be quick.

3) Take 1000. Add 40. Add another 1000. Add 30. 1000 again. Plus 20. Plus 1000. And plus 10. What is the total?

Answer: 5000? Wrong ! The correct answer is 4100. Try again with a calculator. Today is clearly not your day!! Although you should manage to get the last question right…

4) Marie's father has five daughters: 1. Chacha 2. Cheche 3. Chichi 4. Chocho 5. ????

What is the fifth daughter's name? Think quickly…you'll find the answer below…

Answer: Chuchu?

WRONG! It's Marie. Read the question carefully.

Cute, huh? How did you do?

So why am I joking around with all these puzzling questions?

They're kind of fun, but my point is to illustrate how easy it is to think we know what's coming when we don't. And considering how many people come into my office complaining that their spouse doesn't listen to them, I know it's important.

When we've been with our partner a while, we no longer hang on every word they utter. In fact, we often “listen” with our mind elsewhere. Try really paying attention during your next conversation.

Till next time,


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Peter Pearson, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader. Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple. Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

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