The Art of Listening

I remember one time we were sitting down with our boys after they had gotten into some trouble during their teen years. They had received the lecture, and we were just waiting for a confession.My husband kept talking and talking, and finally, my son began his confession. I listened intently, but my husband started talking during our son’s admittance of wrong-doing. I had to stop him and tell him he needed to start listening, because our son was saying something very important. Only then did he begin to listen.

It’s very hard to listen over our own thoughts. We value our thoughts so much, that we cannot let others’ thoughts become paramount. And yet, to truly communicate, and with the flip of the coin, to truly be heard, a good listener needs to be in the conversation. And sometimes the listener is us.

Without a good listener in the conversation, the other person’s thoughts can be considered not worthy. As in, “You’re not worthy enough for me to actually hear what you have to say.” I don’t think that is what most of us really feel, but that is the message we give, and that is the message the other person internalizes. That they are not good enough. That their words don’t count.

So there is an art to listening. We need to stop our brains from the important thoughts so that we can hear what the other person has to say. And in listening, we ourselves may change our own minds, our thoughts may take a new direction or form a new opinion.

And that is called growth, my friend!

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