Simply put, there is nothing, nothing in the world that can take the place of one person intentionally listening or speaking to another. The act of conscious attending to another person—when one once discovers the taste of it and its significance—can become the center of gravity of the work of love. It is very difficult. Almost nothing in our world supports it or even knows about it.
—Jacob Needleman, A Little Book on Love
These words describe how focused listening—taking the time to give someone your complete attention in order to more fully receive what they are saying and feeling—can be an act of love in itself.
First, take a few minutes to think about the value of listening. Consider the times when you truly felt heard and when you really tuned in to someone who needed to be heard. Take a look at or revisit the qualities of a good listener:
• Listening with an open heart and mind
• Allowing the speaker to finish his/her thoughts and sentences, even when you feel impatient to speak
• Accepting that the speaker feels what he/she feels, no matter what you think, and refraining from “correcting” the speaker’s feelings
• Listening with no agenda other than to be a sounding board for someone who needs to speak
• Imagining that you are speaking and listening to yourself
• Listening without trying to solve or fix a problem, unless feedback or advice is sought
Now, give a deeper, more conscious form of listening a try! On Friday, November 28th, the National Day of Listening (or any other time!), we encourage you to connect with someone you love, to practice being a good listener and, if you’re daring enough, audio tape a conversation with them.
Feel free to share with us what happened or how deep listening made you feel.
As David Isay, founder of StoryCorps, the innovative group that brings us this national day, says, “Listening is an act of love.” Let’s spread it around!