Have you ever noticed that when you show a genuine interest in someone - someone you may not even know - you can ask them even just a couple of questions about themselves and before you know it they are telling you personal details, if not their entire life story?
It's amazing what people will tell us if we just listen, and they believe that we are listening.
As a species, our greatest needs (other than food, shelter, and clothing) are to be seen and heard.
We want to be acknowledged and understood. Talking about ourselves is one big way that we feel these things.
We all just want to be heard and acknowledged without judgement.
Possibly the greatest gift that we can give someone is to just LISTEN.
Listen with curiosity.
Don't listen to reply.
Don't listen to talk at all.
Just listen to understand.
True listening requires us to let go of our agendas and our desire for control.
It means asking questions rather than stating answers.
True listening takes effort.
It takes focus.
Listening requires humility because you are putting someone else first.
What if we stop insisting, accusing, blaming, warning, arguing, demanding, explaining, proclaiming, denying, and suggesting and just listened?
If we have to be right all the time then there is no room for curiosity or understanding.
We don't have to agree with someone just to listen to them.
Listening and asking questions is how we learn.
Listening is intended to promote understanding.
Asking pertinent questions shows that we are interested and that we want to understand.
If we are only listening to respond or argue our own beliefs then we are not truly listening or understanding.
Being a good listener is not something that just happens.
It's not something that we just can or can't do.
It takes time and practice, much like anything else, which would make it a skill.
A skill that seems to be disappearing.
Everyone wants to be heard.
It gives us a sense of belonging.
Everyone wants to hear a story.
They are the substance of our lives.
And we all have a story to tell that is imperfect, yet original and beautiful.
But nobody is asking questions.
If nobody is asking questions then who is listening?
"Being heard is so close to being loved that most people can't tell the difference." - David Augsburger
Pic by Grant Krasner