“Jon! Your not listening to me”.
Hmm. And she is right – once again. (Just the words a counsellor wants to hear !?)
This is a reasonable protest by my wife. One of the needs we have in common (all of us) is to have people in our lives who we can love and feel loved by. This happens by ‘tuning in’ to each other. Tuning in largely happens by listening and feeling listened to.
There is a fair bit to to subject of ‘listening’. But lets see if we can scratch the surface.
The thing is, there’s always feelings and stories that lie behind the words (You might say, “so why not leave them there – lets let sleeping dogs lie” !?). But those next level feelings and stories are longing to find a listening ear and see the light of day.
If the words don’t directly tell you, there are also other telltale signs to ‘listen out’ for . These clues have ‘energy’ around them and can be noticed and discerned.
For starters, there’s the
* tone of words,
* the speed or delay of words,
* facial expressions,
* the colour that comes to the face – or leaves it,
* hand and body movements,
* the silences that give way to words –
* and the words that give way to silence.
We do ourselves a favour by slowing ourselves enough to begin to be aware of some of these clues.
The most consistent gift a person can bring to another is a capacity to listen – with interest. This means opening ourselves to the experience of the other. This can be scary stuff – especially for someone who has historically not been listened to. Little wonder at times, we wall ourself off from the listening process.
But right here, in the humble exercise of listening, is the root understanding of the word ‘hospitality’. Being hospitable means opening yourself to the other person – and their story; their experience. It means allowing what is offered to become part of the relationship between you. Not judging, not moralising, not rejecting, not rescuing; just accepting.
I need to sometimes hear words of protest about non-listening from those closest to me. I have some historic personal story around non – listening, and therefore have a bit of ground to catch up on.
How about you?
“You are worth slowing down for”
[Content Inspiration – Stephanie Dowrick, The Universal Heart. (2000) ]