reine de beaute

une causette + Win another "prize"...

French Poster (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc ("Chief Grape) will be in New-York this coming March 8th--or during his 2012 US wine tour (Photo taken in Le Castellet Village, at the restaurant Le Pied de Nez -- painting by Christian Pieroni)

WIN ANOTHER PRIZE (click here to enter this drawing): Today, help me practice The Noble Art of Listening... Enter today's drawing and WIN a telephone call from me (Kristin) in France! (Well, maybe not as exciting an offer as the previous one, but then... it is better than a kick in the pants!) Read on, in today's missive... or enter right away, via this link.

une causette (koh-zet)

    : a chat

un brin de causette = a little chat

 Audio file...
(Sorry, all the Francophones in our house are asleep--that means you are stuck with me! Listen, at your own péril, to the following recording: Download MP3 or Wav file

Une causette c'est aussi de la communication informelle entre plusieurs personnes, sur l'internet, par échange de messages affichés sur leurs écrans. A 'causette' is also informal communication between many people, on the internet, by the exchange of messages posted to their computer screens.


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Grande Bouche

To not get a word in edgewise. This English expression is too delightful, la preuve that the French do not have the monopoly on charming expressions.

Visualize, pour une minute, the edgewise idiom. Can't you just see so many exasperated Words trying, in vain, to slip into The Conversation? At their wit's end, the weary Words must throw up their arms and fall back... so as to sneak in, edgewise, to the lively, one-sided Conversation.

Though the can't get a word in edgewise expression amuses me to no end, it is no fun being Blabbermouth. I'd rather be Good Listener. But when conversation gets going... I can't help but take flight, until, once again, I am steering this chatty vessel--Conversation--through the maze of Off Topic. Wheeeee!---------

"C'est HS," my kids say, eyes-rollingly, and I listen in time to understand some teen slang (HS  = "Hors Sujet" or Off Topic).

 "Let me just finish my thought here..." my Mom suggests, gently, as we fly from one subject to the next. She is game to ride with me on the Ferris wheel of WORDS, and our daily cross-Atlantic conversations are as thrilling as any fairground ride.

"Oh, don't worry about it!" says my friend Claire, who spent the weekend with me. "It's a French thing!" Claire should know, as she has studied the topic for her forthcoming opus.

I'd love to believe that so much word-butting and edging in to conversation is evidence of intercultural advancement, that, once and for all, in that far-off horizon known as French Integration, I am finally making headway... Alas, the truth may very well be, that I am only making "edgeway". 



 Help me practice The Noble Art of Listening... Let me call one of you on the phone--for at least 20 minutes--anywhere in the world! Enter a comment (maybe a tip on how to be a better listener?) in the comments box and I --or MamaJules--will choose a winner on Friday, February 24th. Maybe I could even share our conversation--in an upcoming story? Click here to enter this drawing. I hope to talk to you very soon! 

 French Vocabulary

grande bouche = big mouth

la preuve = the proof

pour une minute = for a minute

    => also "grande gueule" (though this term may be offensive!)

H.S. = hors sujet = off topic


Virginia Cecil Casey

There's Blabbermouth, there on the left (in red). From left to right: Kristin, Virginia, Casey, Chief Grape, Adrienne. (Thank you, Cecil, for taking the photo--wish you were in it!)

Don't Forget to enter this drawing!
Let me call you one the phone! Should you hear heavy breathing in the background... never fear! (That's just me hyperventalating. I am very nervous about calling you, so please enter here and let me know that you would really like to talk to me!)

And now, can anyone end this edition with the lyrics... in French.. of Blondie's Call Me? :-)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Tip for being a better listner: Focus on the content the speaker in speaking (grammer,voice etc) this may help you to keep your attention & listen carefully.

Madelyn E

Oh Bonjour dear Kristin,
I would LOVE to speak with you . How exciting . Of course, I would be thrilled and a little anxieuse at the same time .
As for being a good listerner - I find for myself. stop looking on the computer screen or reading something. No multi-tasking.
It is hard - but I think you can really focus on the person. Also, I would try not to drive (handsfree ) if I had a really important conversation.
Wishing you a happy day - It's Presidfent's Day here .

Bob Irwin

It would be great to speak to you.I enjoy your commentary so I can gain perspective on French life and culture to help me better understand my Frech counterparts.

Joan Zehm        Maine, USA

Bonjour Kristin,I too am accused oftern of
not letting others get a word in edgewise. I do struggle to listern more & say less.I am still a work in progress.Love Joan


Using a painfully slow internet connection in Vanuatu to skype friends and family in France and Australia is teaching me the discipline of being a good listener - as I need to strain to catch their every word! When we can chat face to face it is such a luxury that I am happy to sit and listen to their stories for hours - even when they wander HS :)

Laura Fitzgerald

Bonjour Kristin
Mon marie Jon and I have just returned from trois mois in France. Jon parle le francais assez bien, but I can only listen and sometimes understand - if people speak simply and slowly.

Nous avons eu un echange de maison a Pezenas et Argeles-Gazost. Nouse avons egalement passé un certain temps a Paris qui etait merveilleux.

As you can probably tell, I am using Google translate to write the French bits of this.

This last visit I tended to only listen, and if I wanted to say anything, asked Jon to say it for me. So now I'm inspired to try to learn enough French to be able to converse with people myself next time.


Hi Kristin, it is a great pleasure to have a chat with you. Well to be a good listener, I would say that my mind is really focused on the communicator, no distraction. Body language and the tone of speach of the person communicating is primordial. For instance the eye contact, nodding, smile and even the movement of the hands and body posture would contribute to be a good listener, without interupting the latter.

Bill Facker

It always seems to be the great listener who is triumphant in any conversation with that perfectly timed, perfectly appropriate remark or reply. In our uber-fast world, this is even a grander accomplishment than ever before because it requires an infinite amount of patience. Aloha!

Anne Marie Corcoran

Bonjour Kristin, I would like to converse with you as you make life so fascinating. I was happily surprised at your wonderful accent. To my untrained Aussie ears, you sound quite delightful. Merci beaucoup, Amicablement, Ann Marie

Diane Stanley

Hi Kristin,
I sometimes feel that I can't get a word in edgewise, but that is generally when I am with a number of close friends, or with multiple members of my very large family. If they weren't fun friends or family, I probably would not care as much whether I made my point in the conversation! So, I'm probably a better listener in less friendly situations, where it doesn't really matter to me whether I enter the conversation or not. In any case, Kristin, I would love to "causer" with you. I would hope to be a good listener with you, Kristin, but since I like you so much, watch out!

Terri Dimon

Being a good listener is one of the rarest talents I see among humans. Not launching into a self-obsessed monologue-actually LISTENING to what someone is saying, not just speaking, isn't an easy task, but well worth the effort. My simplest advice: when talking in person, look at them directly in the eyes, have a pleasant expression on your face, and DON'T USE THE WORD "I". Bonne Chance! J'espere de gagner le concurrence!
~Terri Dimon, Lincoln Nebraska

Kathy Kern

I would love to speak with you! I love reading your blog and a chance to speak with you would be great. Thanks!

Lauren Owens

Chere Kristin,
The great listener in my life was my Grandmother. She was an intuitive listener. There was a rhythm to our many conversations that were so enjoyable. Her questions were thought out and didn't require a quick "yes" or "no" answer.
Not to be "Cst HS", but it was my grandmother who has inspired me to immerse myself in the French Culture and language . She left Europe for the US when she married but was still fluent in French until she died at 98.
I am facing my fears and traveling alone this time to Paris for a couple of months for the experience of being independent and to imagine what it would have been like to have been her in the 1920's - 30's
(a real "Midnight in Paris" movie...)
I am enjoying your blog.
I would welcome your phone call.

Randy Komisarek

I think being a good listener arises out of being truly interested in the person you are talking to. I think that empathy is starting point. And ask questions rather than responding with your own views and stories. The readers had lots of good thoughts on this subject.

Carolyn  Dahm, Sharon, MA

Chere Kristin,

I would feel very lucky to talk to you since you have enriched my life and provided so much comfort and happiness over the years. I would be a bit anxious as well but we can always talk about our doggies (I have 2 black labs) which makes any conversation easy!
I am definitely an interrupter during conversations and I am always trying harder to be a better listener. I just get so excited about things I can wait to interject a thought. But I would love to not be so impulsive and really focus on my husband's words as I love him dearly.
Here's hoping that I'm the one who gets to chat with you. In any case, I will definitely do so one day when we visit your vineyard in Provence on our next trip abroad.
Have a wonderful day with you family and give big hugs and kisses to the Smokey and Braise. Lady and Rory (our dogs) say hello! One of these days, I'll send a picture.













Ed Wilhelm

Hi Kristin - Listening to your voice would add a whole new texture to your blog for me; and give me a more personal chance to apologize to you for that stupid response to the session about the fixer-upper when I screwed up the euro to dollar rate.
If we were able to bring any joy into your life like you do for all of us, that would truly become "la vie en rose". - Ed W

Madonna Meagher

It's easy to be a good listener when you have a good story to listen to. Asking thought provoking questions to someone telling a story gets you hooked nearly every time. When someone's life could be written about in a Tennessee Williams play, you've got a great start to a story waiting to be listen to. Please excuse me dear Kristin, I think I'm getting the vapors.

Debbie Ambrous

Dear Kristin,
A call from you would be much better than any present wrapped in a package. You bring France to our lives which we expect from French Word A Day, but there are many more unexpected bonuses. Your generous personality,beautiful insight to life and modesty are the extras that make your posts and books a regular "go to" for me. Yes, please ring me up anytime! But be ready, I want to hear a few girlfriend stories and more about your writing techniques.

Laurel Moranz

Learning to be a good listener is a challenge of life. Je parle francais tout les jours, mais un petit peu. Listening is a challenge as is the learning of the language francais!

Shane Cook

Focus on the speaker, do not think about yourself.


Hi Kristin,

I would love to chat with you. When I read your first book on a camping trip in Cape Breton many years ago I felt that we shared so much in common! And now, years later as a subscriber to your blog, I feel that you are like a sister. Let's be friends!

My listening tip: to shut out all distractions from my mind and look deeply into the person's eyes...or if by telephone, imagine their face as they are speaking.


Bill in St. Paul

I have been accused of being quiet, but the truth is that I try to wait until the current speaker finishes their thought before I express mine. Try that sometime and you'll find that you tend to be a good listener and also quiet as others tend to jump into a conversation before the other speaker is finished. My wife is a good listener but she's also much faster than I to fill a void in any conversation.


Hi Kristin,
I love the expression "can't get a word in edgewise". It reminded me of my mohter who died 10 years ago last week, as it was one of her favorites. My husband always said that whenever my mother, sister, and I had a conversation, we all talked at once,YET, he was most amazed that we all heard everything each person said. A gift I believe. Don't apologize for the lively art of conversation and cherish those around you with whom you can do this. On the other hand, I am SURE that you are a good listener when the conversation is one that deserves it. Have a wonderful week.

Kathy Lee

Chere Kristin! Who WOULDN'T want une causette with you! (Although my daughter was disappointed that I didn't win the key - she has a passion for them - French and antique only sent it over the top!) It would be an honor to speak with you. You have brightened my days and enriched my understanding of French language and culture. Merci! (I have even secretly dreamed of visiting to help with la vendage.)I found it funny you chose "Call Me" - took me back to high school French when we sang "Appelle Moi" for our performance in the cultural show - LOL! I understand your situation though. Many say I am the original prototype for the Chatty Cathy doll. ;-) Keep on posting! Kathy

janet smajstrla

Hi Kristin, This is definitely something I struggle with on a daily basis. When you have so many ideas floating around in your head and you get around other inspiring people it's difficult to keep quiet! You are an intelligent, kind person and I'm sure you'll figure it out. I have a feeling you are too hard on yourself. I, too, add my name to the list of those who would love a call from la France and you!

Gail in Istanbul

Merhaba, Kristin!
Someone once said we are meant to listen twice as much as we speak. That's why we have one mouth (grande ou non) and two ears...
I'd love to talk to you..or your dear mother (who is as rare a vintage as I am).
Thanks to you both for helping me to feel at home whereever I am.

Geraldine Ventura

Hi Kristin, My friends must think I am a good listener because they often call to talk over "a problem" they are having with another friend or family member. As I listen, I can hear that God has blessed me and my own relationships with relatively few problems...maybe that's why I listen well. I would love to listen to your voice and chat a bit about our mutual love of Provence.

Andrea Robinson

I could listen to you talk all day! I am not much of a talker unless I have a topic I really enjoy talking about. My favorite topic is travel! Once I get started it is hard to shut me off. Most of the time I have to search out kindred souls who enjoy travel also to talk much about it. I love to talke about my first love, France. I would love to talke with you about France! At any rate I am just happy to read your Blog several days a week! Thank you so much.

Lynn at Southern Fried French

Hi Kristin,
What a cute post. I've never considered the 'edgewise' expression, but now I see that it's wonderful. That's one thing about learning a new language, it makes you reconsider your own. And I love to learn the latest slang from your kids, more of that please, even if it's HS.

Meanwhile, my dear Jules, your comment had me in stitches. Of course you would do your causette-ing in all caps. I will read this to my 84-year-old mother who is visiting today. A kindred spirit, she has 3 boyfriends. Keep us posted on your adventures, please.


I studied journalism, and it seemed like a perfect career for me since I prefer to ask the questions and let the other person talk. So that is my tip. Instead of stating your own opinion, keep asking the other person questions and, by listening closely to each answer given, new questions will arise, and you'll be able to keep the other person talking for as long as you like.

Jeanne in Oregon

Funny your topic is about being a good listener, because my hubby and I just completed a 24 hour course on learning to coach couples on improving marriages, where good listening skills are essential. Unfortunately most of us are only waiting for that pause (or impolitely interrupting) in order to state OUR thoughts on the subject.

The first evening of class focused on using "I" statements, which most of us are familiar with, and being an "active" listener -- one's whose job is to understand what is being said. The listener is to wait for the speaker to finish, then restate the speaker's thoughts and ask if they got it right. Not as easy as it sounds, but great for getting both people on the same page.

Love you Kristin! Sure would be great to pick up my phone and hear your lovely voice.


Would love to hear from you, as your sunny perspective bring many smiles across the miles.

Anne Maxfield

Hi Kristin,
You're posts are always enjoyable and help keep my vocabulary intact. To listen well is hard. One of the best lessons I learned, is to let the silence speak. If you don't rush in to fill the silence, the person talking will often go to a much more serious/important place.
I don't know how much listening you would get on a call with me, I will probably have too many questions for you!, especially as we're going to be on France at the end of March. However, I'd love to give it a try!


If you called me,you would probably at least be in the same time zone.
I can be a good listener,but also tend to interrupt more than I would like.But I forget what I was going to say is the biggest reason.
How to be a good listener.I think alot depends on who you are listening to.What they are talking about.Etc.
Like I can hear about your problems,but it is harder for me to listen to detailed info about the inside of a computer.........

Randy Welniak

Je suis un psychologue et même j'ai de la difficulté écouter quelquefois.

Maxine Tomashefsky

Bonjour Kristin, I too have the "Gift of Gab" in the sense that I love to listen to stories of other peoples lives but then I get so excited that I can't help but join in sometimes forgetting to let them get a word in edgewise. I especially love to read about your daily adventures of living in France. They remind me that it is a journey filled with adventures and that I should just enjoy the ride. It encourages me to look forward to my husband Steve and myself retiring to France in the next few years and starting our own journey filled with many wonderful adventures and new friends. You and I share a similar style of writing and reading your stories encourages and inspires me as I write mine. Thank you for being the special lady that you are and sharing your life so openly with us. It would an incredible experience to be able to speak with you on the phone and share our stories ~ each of us allowing the other to "Get a word in edgewise"Have a Great Day.

nancy vandenberg

What do I know about listening? Um! Good topic. Seems that listening to another persons words is powerful - it shows you respect them; by listening to their thoughts and responding thoughtfully you validate their individuality. I have also learned a lot about my own assumptions and how wrong they can be even made unknowingly. I seem to make assumptions everyday without even thinking about it based upon previous experiences. It is not until I listen to someone that I really learn about what is going on in their head. I also learned that while listening to not stare the speaker in the eyes but rather to look at the space between the eyes - seems to keep words flowing more freely. Enough. Have a great day and my Yogi says "hi" to your beautiful dogs.

Suzanne Codi, Washington, DC

After being the umpteenth person to comment, I feel like I can't get a comment in edgewise!!!!( hahahaha) I'm always amazed at the time it must take you to read all your viewers' delightful writings inspired by yours!
And, lucky me, I'm privileged to have had wonderful chats with you in person, so I won't enter this contest as someone else needs that chance.
Good luck, whoever you are, Kristi is a wonderful listener as well as writer!!! And bonne guerison. Hope chief Grape is coming to DC...

Mary Swanz

Bonjour, Madame! Look forward to your post every day! Give me a call and we can chat in French or English. If I'm speaking to you face to face I would look into your eyes and pay attention. If we are communicating by letter I would concentrate on what you are saying. If you write me a letter in French, I would concentrate harder! My French teacher here recently received a prize for spreading French culture...just like you.


Your blog is always a ray of sunshine, Kristin and you look radiant and as beautiful as ever in your photo, scarring not visible at all. AND I think you're being too tough on yourself: you are so naturally compassionate I can't believe you would dominate a conversation. Your powers of observation, both visual and aural, are too finely tuned for you to be a conversation hogger.....HOW could you possibly retain all those glorious details in your vignettes if you didn't listen properly? hugs from Maureen xxx

Walter Zekanoski

Hi Kristin,

I'd be happy to speak with you. My French is very rusty but I'll try. That's why I signed up for French Word-A-Day and stream FIP all day long.


Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin

Here in the American Southwest, a Native American tradition is the use of a “Talking Stick” at meetings and story telling circles. Only the person holding the talking stick is permitted to talk. He also has an “Answering Feather” which he passes to a person asked a question so he can respond.

For more info check….

À bientôt

mhwebb in NM, USA

You are already in my thoughts and prayers, as are the others that comment here. It would be good if I were the one to receive your phone call, but I would also be happy for anyone else that would receive it. I think it is a great idea!

Blessings, Mary in NM

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

The key to being a good listener is to listen when the other person is talking instead of thinking up what you're going to say next.

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

What do we have to do to win a phone call from Jules?

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

Does that count as two … er … three entries?

Donna Grieder

In conversation, with our own words eager to march in- edgewise if necessary!- we overlook one useful listening technique:a pause. This may be most useful in an interviewing, or question/answer session, but it works!
After the person has finished answering a question, don't say anything. It is difficult to do at first, but if you can resist speaking, the person may elaborate on what they said, or reveal something unexpected.

Alison Light

How I wish I could speak to you en francais mais il sera en anglais. I have my best conversations in french in my head when I have time to figure out what I want to say and then how to say it! Merci beaucoup!

Jonni in AZ

I too suffer from HS. I am reminded daily that I am off with the ' squirrels', from the movie 'up' I listen, but then my mind gets excited and goes off in another direction. Call me, we can learn to listen together..... (smile)

Craig Mische

Hopefully the call includes a chance to say hello to Smokey!

vicki ford

Dear Kristin,
I read your post every day and can see from your pictures that you have a wonderful eye for detail and imagine that your attention to conversation is the same. What always stands out to me is the amazing love that you have for your family and when I read your mother's encouraging words each day I can see how one person can make an incredible difference in the lives of others. I would like to listen to the both of you.

Rebecca Q. T. in Baltimore

Being a better listener is very difficult, especially when one (like you!) has such a vivid imagination. If being a better listener requires sacrificing some of that creativity, I suggest you forget about getting your word in edgewise and instead continue to muse while the other Chatty Cathys (and gregarious Gregs?) ramble on. Toodeloo! (À tout à l'heure!)

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Bonjour Kristin. J'aimerais de parler avec toi! Perhaps we could make plans for the summer because I'm determined to get south of Burgundy this year. I'm also with Bruce (above) - we need a contest of a phone call with Jules.

While in this post you're fretting about not letting anyone get a word in edgewise (I love your image of all the jostling words), have you ever thought about how great you are at starting conversations here? You have a gift for it.

I have been told (more than once and not in a complimentary way) that I talk in paragraphs. I'm trying to learn the hard lesson of getting in and getting out of my thought quickly. I've become more observant of my husband's expression as he waits to answer the question I had asked him 36 sentences ago. You are not alone.


Good Morning,

I agree with everyone else; it would be great to talk with you! I have often been accussed, even by my closest friend's of talking too much. I especially seem to go from one thing to the next. There are a few friend's who can actually keep up with me haha. I am also a good listener who tries not to interject my opinion too much. For what authority am I on relationship's, kid's, or just life in general.

Take care and enjoy the week!

Marianne Rankin

In addition to the useful listening tips above, I suggest really endeavoring to notice the particular, even unique, ideas of the speaker. When we are too ready to jump into a reply, we may overlook something truly worthwhile the other person has said (or cut off what he or she was about to say), and miss something that could be of value to us.

I'd be delighted to talk with you, Kristin, or with your mother. I can speak in either French, without hesitation, or in English. I'd love to learn even more about you that I've picked up on the blog. Again, I appreciate all the efforts you make for your "fans."

This prize is one that could be awarded periodically, so over time, more than one person would have a chance to win. Most of us have cell phones, so a time could be set, and the winner could call you, if cost of phone calls at your end is a consideration.

Suzanne, J-M will be in the D.C. area on March 10-11. I had the impression last year that he was thinking of taking a break from a U.S. tour in 2012, so am very glad he will be back dans nos lieux, and look forward to seeing him next month.

Ann Deane

I am trying to instill the same bonhomie in Coupar Angus, here in windy Sctland as I find when in Saint yrieix la Perche, but to no avail. Folk neither want to listen or speak. Oh for the kisses I receive when visiting Chez Bernadette for lunch. I am sure you have noticed the same Anglo saxon froideur.,

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

Kristin, To speak with you about your courage that took you to France permanently, your family and life in France would be appreciated and amazing. Sometimes I sit on our back deck that looks through the dense woods at Lake Michigan and imagine that I am in France - pretending is not the same. Give a call and we'll chat. Thank you.

Betty Gleason

Alors! What would we talk about? What couldn't we talk about? Nothing could possibly be H.S. That is one of the keys to good listening I believe, hearing the words, but understanding what is trying to be communicated by the speaker. So seemingly off topic remarks may be more important to the topic than originally perceived. All good conversation is a meandering waterway that sometimes swirls in deep pools and other times glides over smooth stones or rushes in torrents. Whatever the speed or intensity, it is at least two people traveling thought streams together, and always enriched by the experience.
Gab away! Have a great day!

Cheryl in STL

Since I wasn't able to talk to you at Shakespeare and Co. after your presentation there (I had a flight home bright and very early the next morning), I would LOVE to have this chance to causer un peu!

As a teacher, I learned very early on that good listening ears on my part were very important! How can I expect my students to listen if I don't?


Hello- and thanks for bringing a little bit of France to my days... until i can visit there again.

Betty Gleason

Also, even though it is supposed to be a social faux pas, I love it when someone finishes my sentence for me with just the right word. Often I flounder for words & appreciate when a listener is so engaged in the conversation that they can complete my thoughts.

francesca campbell hulick

hi kristin!
to be a better listener, you must learn to "juste etre" (the tao of pooh) . . .
take care, francesca

L. M. Davies

Jules, you took the words right out of my mouth! (Another colorful expression in English?) Whew! If I don't have to speak French, I would LOVE a phone call or skype with Kristin! I was so bummed when our plans changed and we weren't able to visit last fall -- it would be delightful to finally 'meet' by phone. What is it that Brenda Ueland said about listening? (I looked it up because I liked it so much!): "When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.”

Jean Lillibridge

Would love to have you call me. I am a talker and am guilty of interrupting conversations. Working on that. Jean

Jean Lillibridge

Would love to have you call me. I am a talker and am guilty of interrupting conversations. Working on that. Jean


Yeah! I would love a phone call with you! I'm so scared to actually speak french, that perhaps I would be forced to with you. As for listening, well...I find it takes practice. When my husband is on a roll, I just shut up and let him go. I figure sometimes I get on a roll too about certain topics and he just lets me go too :)

Dad in sunny southern California

To be a good listener one needs to be able to hear. My wife says I need a hearing aid, and I fear that she is correct! That way I can just turn it off when someone is talking too much about themselves.

To all your respondents:

Please put where you are from next to your name...thanks!

katrina berg

Oh, that would be so much fun...with little ones I don't talk nearly as much on the phone as I used to...too many people to listen to at once :). Wish I could say it has made me a better listener, but I'm afraid I tune too much out! I'd love to find a quiet time pour une causette. Bonne idée!

Julie S.

Hi Kristin,
I think just trying to focus on the message the other person is trying to get across and quieting one's own mind to be able to hear the message helps. I struggle with the same thing as you. I got a Master's Degree in counseling and I had to really work during our practices. I think just the fact that you are aware of the issue means that you are working to overcome it. I have to admit that I don't really like to chat on the phone because it seems so limiting to me. I would much rather talk in person, but sometimes it is the best we can do.
(From sunny San Diego, California)

Kathy Thompson

Hi Kristin. I LOVE all of the comments about how to be a good listener. You have to genuinely be present to the other person, to pretend that you are in his or her "movie" and can't wait to find out how the story ends. It takes true commitment and lots of energy, but is so powerful. I believe good listening is the foundation of all good relationships.
Kathy - Milwaukee, WI USA


I'm commenting but please don't choose me because I've have had delightful conversations in person with both you and Jean Marc. I consider both you and Jean Marc to be easy conversationalists--not too much and not too little and always lots of interesting topics to keep things going. At one wine tasting at your house, I remember one couple with whom we needed edgewise words, but never you. (BTW, thanks for helping me visualize those words slipping in edgewise!) If you were truly in need of advice on how not to dominate conversations, I'm probably not the one to ask because I love to tell stories, sometimes long ones. Nevertheless, here is some advice: pretend you are spy. You must listen to the other as much as you can in order to acquire clues, many of which you won't know how they fit together until you have listened to many. At the same time, as a spy, you don't want to reveal too much about yourself so you won't be detected as a spy.

But Kristin, my real advice to you is just to be your delightful self!

Caroline Dimmick

Hi, Kristin, I would love to hear your voice. You've given me some wonderful things to ponder and enjoy! My French is too rusty to be of any use, but I love to hear it! Hope to hear your lovely voice this cold winter day (in Upstate NY).

Devra Long

Oh after all these years of being a FWAD devotee I would so love une causette with you; I am trying so hard to be a better listener but sometimes I get excited with the thoughts being exchanged and talk too much. I have been told that I am a good listener but have become aware of people who talk AT me and how draining that is!Note to Jules; love what you said about having fun each day; my motto (taken from a sign in a Paris store window) is that "I have passed the age of taking myself seriously!!" Hugs to both of you!

Devra Long

Oops! Hi to your Dad from Dev in Madison, Alabama!

T Tyler

Bonjour Kristin - for me being a good listener is having my ears on and paying attention to what the person is saying,not trying to do something else at the same time (which is usually the case)!

Tish - from Powhatan VA where the 6 inches of snow we received overnight is quickly melting. C'est bien because I have to go to work tomorrow.


Appelle-moi, ma cherie, Kristin! What a fun way to shake up a life! Now, in case you do not know this version of the song, and you feel like a hearty giggle, crank up the volume for:
Thanks for the smiles this morning - and so many mornings.
Adéu-siau - aloha - tschüß - from the Mushroom Capital, Morgan Hill, California

kate sharp

Hi Kristin,
I will be in your country soon, so you can call me and tell me how to get to your home and to purchase some of that delicious wine. Good luck with the contest. GREAT IDEA!!
P.S. If you call, don't forget to put Chief on the phone.

Claudine Werner

And what happens when two good listeners meet for a conversation?


Danielle in Morgan Hill, California

Talk about HS...
Cherie - querida - Jules,
I just read your comment and am so excited about your new job (and book, too). It gives me hope for my future retirement from teaching - jet ski tour guide - what a kick! It's got to be right up there with motorcycling from Florida to Tierra del Fuego. Have fun - like, duh!
You rock!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

I hope you are recovering, and doing much better.

I am so excited --- I am going to meet your Chief in Portland, OR. Can't wait to taste your wines.

Be well, and thanks for your great columns. I have now told 4 people about your site.

A good listener has to pay attention, and truly be interested in the person ----and have great body language.


Rick Sturm

There is a big difference between "listening" and "not talking" (that is, not talking, but also not hearing what the other person is saying).

Listening requires that you pay attention to what is being said. My tip is that to pay attention with intent of being able to ask a question about what is being said. Even if you don't ask the question, it will help you focus. However, actually, asking the question makes the other person feel validated. Another way to think of it is as if you are back in school and the speaker is your professor who may call on you at any second with a question about what they just said.

Unfortunately, sometimes people can be immensely boring. Then, all you can do is count the lizards on the wall. (It's a long story that comes from another couple's visit to India.)


Wow!! Do I stand a chance of winning? It would make a great birthday call!!! And, I could ask you about the composting you are doing and how you decide on the pictures you use. Maybe on thing could lead to another..


Well, phooey! I hope this is how we enter because I'd REALLY love to hear your voice! I've scraped together enough money to drag a best friend to Paris for her first visit. I truly love the French people, the country and the language so much, it's like a part of me, very deep and familiar. And you are such an inspiration. Keep it up, s'il vous plait?

Nancy in Fort Worth, TX

A chat with you would be a lovely honor. We lived in France in the 80's, so a 20 minute phone chat in French would likely be a challenge. I'm hoping for a conversation in English! One help for listening on the phone is taking notes. One help for improving listening in person is reflective listening: "What I hear you saying is...".
Hope your day is blessed. Nancy in Fort Worth, TX

judith dunn

Kristin... I pray each night for you to be okay with your 'bumps'! I am the classic, 'dont ask her what time itis, as she will tell you how the clock is made'! I try and also be a good listener, by looking straight at te person and not interrupting ( hard!) until they have finished their thought. I would love for you to dall my French friend Anne Nelson, 1-850-668-4742, here in Tallahassee. She is 84, my tutor and lives alone.. she would be thrilled! thanks you for all you do foe all of us..... bisous, Judi Dunn , Tallahassee, Fl.

judith dunn

... Kristin..... I am sorry for not having proofed my note. truly I can spell.. just moving fast today... je suis desole... Judi

Susan Blackwood

Hello Kristin,

I really appreciate all the hard work that you do to help us understand this amazing language called French.

How do I listen? I use the Right side of my brain and picture everything that is being said. With that area of the brain engaged, I am not trying to analyzed each word, but stay focused on their words and my feelings become intertwined with their's. Listening is like creating a painting with each other. Each spoken word is a stoke of color. My job as a listener is to let the strokes of colors build up to beautiful images that we both can envision together.

Thanks for enlightening all of us, one newsletter at a time!


Coucou de Minnesota! Merci de tout vos bons blog entries. :) Ils me plaisent tres bien! Je veux gagner!!! Je gagne jamais! :)

Linda Holt

Bonjour, Kristin - So many inspiring responses - I can't hope to "gagner ton voix", but I add my thanks for your wit and wisdom via your posts and my gratitude to you and Jean-Marc for welcoming us all into your lives. Your generosity is overwhelming. When listening, I try to follow a "hear big, speak little" rule - hard to do when communications are online - but even in person, i find you almost have to listen with your whole skin, not just eyes and ears, in order to truly understand someone else's message, especially when tensions and stakes are high. Nancy and I are hoping to see Jean-Marc in Washington, DC in March, as much as I hope to hear your lovely voice in person again one day.
Linda in Silver Spring, MD

Romeo Danais

Bonjour Kristin;

C'est Moi, Romeo! Romeo in New Hampshire, and, I would enjoy speaking with you about all the fantastic photos you present in your communiqués with us.

Now, about how to not interrupt when someone else is speaking. I know this will sound silly, but, it works. Sit on your hands! Its terribly difficult to interrupt someone or to get your words in if your sitting on your hands.

See, it works!

So, now, all you need to do is call me and we'll chat.



I'm not the person to give advice on listening but I promise to listen well if I win the wonderful chance to talk with you on the phone. In the fall, three of us plan to visit a very good friend who will soon move to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue from Avignon. Jack was my husband's roommate before our marriage 45 years ago. We have remained close though he has lived in Europe for almost 40 years. I love your emails and your books and would love to come visit you then. We could talk over the possibilities.

Linda Hampton Smith

Kristin. What a brave and inspired prize. It seems that the gift of the "key" has opened the door to THIS. And here you are, standing at the portal, wanting to hear. I, too, am at this place. For my whole life, I thought I was a GREAT listener. I prided myself on this. But, Life being the wonderful teacher it is, has shown me otherwise. I listened like an actress par excellente. Eyes trained on the speaker, cocked head, remarkably cheery smile, and (seemingly) very, very "there" for the other person. Yet the whole time (and I wasn't fully aware of this until recently) a circus of acrobatic fears and insecurities would be doing somersaults in my head. Am I willing to drop all that stuff with a thud and bare myself completely to the heart of another? Until I can do so, I will not be fully engaged with life. I'll remain once-removed.
Alors, here is my new frontier. I'm not particulary in love with growing pains (it would be awfully nice to skip the pain part!) But I know that I need to grow. Because on the other side of all this is a life all the richer - and so completely nourishing. May I live it with utter enjoyment and total abandon:)

Rebecca Rawlings

Bonjour Kristin,
I am around your age and have noticed some similarities in our lives (except the France/French husband part!), and have always felt if we met we would be fast friends, so of course, it would be lovely to speak with you!! : )
In terms of listening, I was a communication major and in fact, am in grad school now attempting a M.A. in communication studies, so my thoughts on listening skills is to concentrate on what is being said by the speaker without thinking about what you the receiver might say in response, focusing your mind on the other person and what they are attempting to convey. Seek to listen with your soul, the core of your being, and listen with your heart and not just your mind.
It's President's Day in the U.S., so Happy President's Day!!

George Shaw

I think I would immediately hand over the phone to my two daughters in order to have you tell them directly that they need to keep reading French Word-A-Day that I send to them. Maybe they would listen to you...

Candy in CO

I thought of 2 things to share regarding your post this morning. The first thing that came to mind is a passage from Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence". In talking about his neighbor he wrote, "He never approached a subject directly, but edged toward it, crabwise and cautious." Well, that certainly is not me! ha! The second thing that I thought of to share is that in my move (back to CO) I came across a photo of my brownie troup. We are all positioned in a formal photo so that we can all be seen. Everyone is facing the camera with a big smile - except for me. I'm turned profile to say something (I'm sure it was extremely important to my seven year old self) to the little girl next to me. So, chere Kristin, I too, enjoy a good chat! It's beautiful here today with a soupcon of snow on the ground and that glorious Colorado blue sky!

Susie from La Porte

Kristin, talking to you would be an extension of our visit last spring ("our" meaning you, Marti and me). And if we could plan carefully, it could be another threeway conversation. I'm sure I could entice Marti to drive 3 1/2 hours to my house in order to have a third of a phone visit with YOU! A year ago now, we were planning to visit you! What fun it was for us. Especially our getting lost, and your finding us!! Do you remember? That memory still makes me smile.

Ann Marie W.

"The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.
Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones."--Proverbs 16:23, 24

Debra Karimzad

As une coiffeuse, I listen all day as I do my work. The key to being a good listener has been understanding that people like talking about themselves. I ask questions about their lives, their families and what interesting things they have been doing. I enjoy going into their world.

I would love une causette with you! Your coaching for my annual trip to France in the Fall would be AMAZING! Thank you for your wonderful blog which was an unexpected gift from a friend. I love your style, your photos and all that you share of your life in France.

San Francisco, California

Judi (Lake Balboa, CA)

"Listening well" is such an admirable trait and I think you have it in spades - always 'listening' to us and sharing. I think listening goes well when it is a 'two-way street' and there is true interest in what the other one has to say (and you have that). I would love a chat from you! Our trip to France may be postponed, due to a family health problem so, it could be a year before we can visit you. I just love and await each day to see if there is a FWAD post - and I just treasure each one! And, so many of the wonderful comments I read - it may be a little 'practice in listening' - this reading business!

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