The Art of Listening…

I often wonder why people will ask me how I am, and then seem impatient if I actually try to answer them honestly. I now joke with friends that I am going to start, if this happens, responding with “If you don’t want to know how I am, then I suggest that you don’t ask me.” It has become a way of saying hello, I think, to ask ‘How are you doing?” But, what if…..if you can imagine for a moment….what if we asked that and then stopped whatever we were doing to really listen to the answer to that question. What might happen?

Here are some things that I think that might happen.

We may hear what another human being is struggling with in their day to day life….and we may not feel so alone with our own struggles. We may help another feel more heard and seen and form a connection that is deeper and more meaningful. We may learn, once again, that life is not easy – but that we can perhaps ease a bit of the pain that sometimes comes by being present and really hearing each other. We may be amazed at how someone opens up to us when we really mean to ask that question – how they have been hungry to share some of their experiences and feelings.

I don’t think that it has to be a long conversation, although there are times that this may happen. I believe that even a brief moment of connection can touch our spirit and soothe us….that a moment of genuine contact can make a more lasting impression than longer conversations of chit chat. {I don’t mean to invalidate chit chat, as I think that this has a place as well, but not as a steady diet.)

Maybe we feel that we have to try and come up with a solution or advice. I honestly think that people mostly just want to be heard, not necessarily to be given our advice. To listen to someone is to validate their experiences, their feelings, their present moment in time. To not give advice is actually to believe that people most often do have their own answers, but may not be there yet.

I can try and do my best to listen to you, to sit beside you, to be with you – even in quiet moments in between the words as you simply experience whatever it is that you are going through….and to try and let you know that I hear you. I am there beside you. I see you.

Isn’t that the greatest gift of all? I believe that deeply listening to someone is one of the greatest forms of love. It comes with time given, and with true attention. It is a quiet, yet incredibly powerful, form of love that is felt in the spaces between the words. It is saying to someone…..”I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear what you are feeling. I want to feel your spirit and hold it tenderly in my hands and heart. I want to let you know that I am here and that I see and hear you. You deserve to be heard and seen. You and what you have to say are important to me. You are important to me.”

I feel this, dear readers, when some of you take the time to respond to my posts, and am deeply grateful for this…for all of you who do this. You make a difference in my life. And I thank you. And I am glad to offer the same to you.

So….how are you doing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s