The Gift of Listening

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To truly listen is to give of yourself

When was the last time someone listened to you; truly listened? Listened to you in a way that opened your heart and mind and allowed eye-opening insights to illuminate the situation, bringing clarity, healing, lightness and transformation?

“The unexpected action of deep listening can create a space of transformation capable of shattering complacency and despair.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

After a listening session with me, a client who has become a very dear friend wrote “There is something affirming and acknowledging being given that space [of being listened to] and allowed to be who I am in that moment.”

It is not difficult to understand why listening is so important.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ― Ralph G. Nichols

It takes two to dare greatly

Like many things, listening is a two way street. Someone speaks and another listens. The speaker goes first. Or do they?

The listener provides the space, a listening space,  a sanctuary. Without that space that conveys without a word or a whisper “you are safe here; you matter; it is confidential; the buck stops here,” it is a rare speaker who will open up, come out from behind their mask and allow their own wisdom to well up from deep inside them.

Trust is a BIG thing when true listening is on the cards. Trusting the listener is but one aspect of it. The speaker also has to trust themselves. Trust that they can dare greatly in their own presence, be themselves, be vulnerable and bare their soul; be honest and acknowledge the insight and wisdom that arise, no matter how uncomfortable.

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” ― Brené Brown, Author of Daring Greatly.

I want to go a step further than Brené. I want to go so far as to say “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, pain can’t survive.”

“The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right here, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.” ― Tara Brach.

A rare gift

My friend also says “The gift of being listened to is a special gift. You don’t get it very often.”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Something else gets in the way as well. The way we see the world and our assumption that others see it the same way.

“It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias.” ― Criss Jami

That inner voice that offers a free, running commentary as you listen to someone else comes at a price. It distracts from truly hearing what is being said. It undermines the listening environment. It inhibits the speaker. It subtly signals “My opinion is more important than yours.”

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” ― Bryant McGill

Love and healing

Sometimes, the most healing thing we can do for another human being, is to listen to them, just … LISTEN.” ― Jaeda DeWalt, author of Chasing Desdemona.

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” ― David Augsburger

When was the last time you allowed yourself to experience such a powerful gift? The gift of listening?


Photo Credit: RGBStock

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