Listen Deeply, Speak Truthfully

12 05 2017

ramos-spring-201512 MAY 2017

We rarely listen to other people. Mostly we wait impatiently to reply without truly hearing what the other person has said. We use our discussion as a platform to voice our ideas and beliefs. Is this because we have so few opportunities to speak, so we jump at any opportunity? Or are we so self-absorbed that we really believe our words are so much more important than our associate’s? Are we afraid of silence in a conversation, the possibility of appearing less intelligent and having nothing to say? A combination of these, or none of the above? Regardless of the reason, I believe many of us have experienced feeling unheard or misunderstood, perhaps even invisible in a conversation.

Clearly, we can’t change our speaking partner, but we do have control over our part in the conversation. We can put aside our own stories and ideas to truly pay attention to the other. As we listen, we may be surprised to discover that the person is sharing something deeply meaningful. Perhaps it is not initially apparent, but if we can be empathetic and imagine being in the other person’s situation, we may find access to understanding at a deeper level. We can check in with the speaker, testing our ideas with open questions: how did you feel when that happened? What did you really wish someone had said? This is deep listening, hearing the other person, being present, without an agenda, judgment or preconceived ideas about the outcome of a conversation. It’s an effort to develop intimacy, a deep connection, with our speaking partner.

When we are successful in listening deeply, we find that all the clamoring voices in our head are quiet. It is at that point that we sometimes hear a message from our inner stillness that is relevant to our speaking partner and is important to share. This is not about appearing smart or wise or knowledgeable. It’s not an opportunity to tell the other something intended to hurt (even if it’s “true”). It’s allowing some inner wisdom to flow through you, using you as a vessel. It is then that useful words will arise. These words will be the truth relevant at that time.

hands-on-typewriter-1-1In fact, as I write this, I am trying to do exactly that. I am letting my fingers type my thoughts with the desire that something from my inner voice will come through and share itself with you. I dare hope that what I write will resonate with you, and there will be a small moment of “yes.”

Most religious doctrines include a prohibition about lying or perjury. The interpretation here takes the concept of being truthful to a different and deeper level. Being honest in itself is often difficult, but listening deeply and speaking truthfully takes even more focus and commitment. But I believe it’s a skill worth the time and effort, and the practice, to integrate into our lives.



2 responses

12 05 2017

So true. I read somewhere that people listen to about the first several seconds from someone else and then begin crafting their response. This can not be a productive path forward for avoiding or resolving conflicts. Even if you don’t think you do it, pay close attention and I can guarantee that we all do it sometimes. It might be because you are just busy and want to hurry things along or you are so angry you can’t listen.

17 05 2017
Beth Lapin

Very interesting…it’s so common to not listen…

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