“I felt it shelter to speak to you…” ~Emily Dickinson
Who is the best listener you know?
Yep. That’s the one. The person who just came to mind. The person you seek out when you need to hear yourself talk. The first person you call when you have good news. Or bad news. Or any news. The person who never tries to “out story” you. The person who listens with their ears, their eyes, their whole body. That my friends is not me. I aspire to be that person.
I know this…most of us just need a good listening to…
Henry David Thoreau mused that one of the greatest miracles would be if we could actually look through anothers’ eyes for just a moment. I believe that the best way to see the world through anothers’ eyes, is with our ears…by listening…really listening to each other.
True listening is not just good etiquette. It’s a way of showing love, honor and respect. It’s a way of bonding and truly connecting with another human being. It’s probably the best way to experience life as ONE.
Watch what happens the next time you listen to a child. Or an older adult. Or a spouse. They open up. They soften, and they share. For me, it really takes something to get out of my head and start listening with my heart. I have to literally tell myself to shut up…meaning the thoughts about what to say next.
I once listened to a talk on “Listening with Compassion, Understanding and Intention by Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich That Hanh. Here are his 6 tips:
- Be present…give the speaker your full attention.
- Show generous interest. Encourage the speaker.
- Let the words come into your heart.
- Make it safe for the speaker to share their truth.
- Listen to every word, without interruption.
- When the speaker is finished, simply acknowledge what you heard. No judging, no comeback, no last word.
Wow. So simple, and yet so hard. Will you take this on with me? We can start with a small conversation. Someone’s story, or simple events of their day. Who knows…Maybe it’s like weight lifting. Maybe we will eventually work up to religion and politics. And then maybe, just maybe, we will begin to be the change we wish to see in the world.