The Art of Listening
For the most part listening is an art many of us have not yet mastered. A testimony of this lies in the volumes of books that have been written on how to develop listening skills. There are even courses on the topic! It’s truly a mystery that something so simple can be so elusive!
In our everyday lives we encounter different types of listeners. There’s the type that simply likes the sound of their voice and doesn’t listen at all. Then there are those who, instead of listening, are busy preparing the next thing they want to say. Another type runs an internal dialogue evaluating what’s being said. Finally, there’s the silent listener who’s lost in his/her own thoughts. So, it’s a unique experience whenever we’re in the presence of someone who has the rare skill of truly listening. We can certainly feel the difference!
It’s not just in casual conversations with strangers or acquaintances where listening is absent. Unfortunately, it happens with those who are dear to us. Often, parents don’t really listen to what their children are saying; partners skip over a lot of what the other is saying; and friends frequently get carried away with telling their stories that they forget to listen. Wisdom lies in listening and not in speaking!
We all have an innate longing to be heard and understood. When we know that we are truly being listened to our spirit expands. The greatest gift we can give to each other is to be fully present and to listen with an open heart. Far more important than the words that are being listened to, is the act of listening itself. It’s the space of presence and stillness you offer another that is so precious. So listen with more than just your ears and know that deep listening is a gift for both the listener and the speaker. Remember the words of the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”