© 2009 Marica

059 – Are you listening?

Eyes see only light, ears hear only sound, but a listening heart perceives meaning.
— David Steindl-Rast

Someone says, “I need to talk.” They may not say these exact words but they say something that can be interpreted as “I need to talk”.

We might choose to ignore them (consciously or unconsciously).

We might choose to engage but only halfheartedly. By doing so we think we are doing the right thing. Very often it isn’t. The other person can easily pick up that we’re not fully present and this makes them feel devalued.

We may hear the words coming out of the other person’s mouth but we could be thinking about other things – what we have to do next, what we’re having for dinner, our own issues … the list goes on and on. We could become distracted by things going on around us. Very often the listener assumes they need to give a response, give advice or even worse, take control. The reality is that all the person may want is for someone to listen to them.

In his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff, Richard Carlson draws our attention to exactly this problem when he writes:

In some ways, the way we fail to listen is symbolic of the way we live. We often treat communication as if it were a race. It’s almost like our goal is to have no time gaps between the conclusion of the sentence of the person we are speaking with and the beginning of our own. (p.75)

Listening with our whole being can be demanding. It can make such a difference to another person to know they are being listened to. By listening we are saying, “You are not alone. I care. You matter.” Often that is all that is required – for someone to be able to say what they need to say, to be heard and not judged, and for nothing more to happen. Silence is not bad, it can be a loving act.

10. Every day connect with somebody.
22. Every day refine, clarify and simplify.
28. Every day you will be tested.

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