The Art of Listening


I have thought long and hard as to whether or not this post is necessary.  Is it just a moment to vent, seek advice, or both?

The art of listening is one that has been spoken of by many therapists and learned by few people.  When I listen to someone I hear their perspectives I DO NOT always agree.  Listening to someone speak their mind doesn’t mean that you agree with what they are saying it means that you value their opinions.  It means you respect them.  There is that famous quote by Steven R. Covey, “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  That is more true than it is false.  The majority of people approach discussions in a debatable format where they listen long enough to formulate their next objection.  Well I am all in favor of a healthy debate I am not in favor of an argument.  I find arguments petty and unnecessary.  I believe if you find yourself in the midst of an argument and can not exit stage left that one needs to navigate through the trenches carefully.  On the other side of that argument may await tragedy. To argue is to state that you are wrong and I am right.  When this happens I lose control because I don’t see people’s opinions or feelings in a right or wrong fashion.  I am strong willed and opinionated.  My personality can often times be seen as dominant over those around me but I believe that the opinions of those around me are just as important as mine.  I’m even willing to sit there through painful moments of what I may consider nonsense simply because it matters to the other person.  When we listen to others not only do we open up the possibility to learn but we also open up the possibility for growth.  Listening to someone opens up the potential for growth for that individual as well.  When we fail to listen we rob ourselves and others.  People often arrive at conclusions about themselves when talking to someone that listens which is why therapy is such a lucrative business.  Now even as I write this post I reconsider the way I validate the opinions of others.  Could I be a better listener?  I will work hard to achieve that very thing and in the process I have to evaluate my entire life.  What do I really want?  Do I want to be right or do I want ___.

I have learned to let go of things that when I was younger I may have spent the energy to defend and explain until the cows come home.  Now, I don’t care so much.  I don’t care if someone has a different perspective than me.  Having a different perspective doesn’t make it an argument.  It becomes an argument when you don’t value the other persons perspective.  Some people would rather you simply agree with everything they think and feel.  I am ok with disagreeing because in that lies creativity and individuality and that’s where there is beauty.  Who wants a robot who thinks and feels exactly as you do?  Where is the diversity in that?

I feel like somehow I have evolved over night.  That a transitional shift has taken place within me that is empowering and enlightening.  It causes me to wonder what is next for me as the sky is the limit.  I am taking the time to listen to my inner voice and the voice of those around me.  I’m not listening with the intent to reply.  I am listening with the intent to understand.


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