Why is it so?
Why is it that the art of listening features so highly in the interpersonal stakes ?
I mean …, why cant others just ‘get’ what I am saying?
Why cant I just ‘get on with it’?
Don’t they know having to listen and talk about things makes it difficult for me?
Maybe I need to put my foot down – to be more forceful?
Do I need to preach more loudly?
Perhaps manipulate more cleverly?
Regardless of how couscous it is, most people are hungry to be heard – to have their thoughts given air time and to have their feeling state acknowledged. However, in general, the way of life as we know it is more along the lines of content being ‘delivered’, in a one way fashion – layer upon layer, upon layer. A a result, the truer parts of myself become trampled deeper, deeper, deeper.
There is an image that goes along with the skill of listening. Its that of drawing water ‘up and out’ of the well. It speaks of drawing someone out, quietly, gently, patiently. Listening.
The ancient saying (Provers 20) says:
“ The purposes of a persons heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
Listening is essentially an attitude. Its a way of being in the presence of another. Preparing ourselves to listen requires our focus, it utilises our presence and calls out our adult-ness. These are all organic parts of us yet requires practice so as to be relaxed and comfortable in ourselves in the circumstance.
It is said that being heard by someone who is skilful in listening is an experience like no other; ‘like becoming immersed in a lake of water when your only previous experience of water was of puddles’.
Silence is at the heart of listening. I don’t need to say clever things to be a good listener. Mainly, I need only surrender my own agenda (temporarily), leaving behind my version of the world in order to enter someone else’s. Sometimes it’s helpful to inwardly ask myself …, “what is it like to be you?”, and then wait with interest and patience for insights.
In so doing we are essentially saying to someone else:
“Your version of events matters to me”,
“Your feeling state matters to me”,
“Your hopes and dreams matter to me”,
“You matter to me”,
“You are worth slowing down for”
[ Content Inspiration – Stephanie Dowrick, The Universal Heart. (2000) ]