The Gift of Listening

By Amy Hauptman, and at the link there’s much more:

Listening is an unglorified activity.

We all want to be heard. We all want to be understood. But whotruly wants to sacrifice their time and energy to simply listen to someone else?

We can pay professionals to listen to us (on an hourly basis). We can get our pseudo-therapeutic community to “listen” to us via Facebook and Twitter. But when was the last time you were intentional about sitting with a friend (other than your significant other) and just listening, without inserting your opinions, your commentary, or your general “wisdom” and advice.

I have a friend who describes listening as giving someone a drink of water. Most North Americans have access to clean drinking water and don’t suffer from physical thirst, but people are thirsty for someone to listen to them.

We generally don’t want to be the one listening, though; we don’t want to have to make the effort to try to understand a friend, because that puts us in a position of servanthood. It requires humility, effort, time, and energy. It requires putting aside our own voice, our opinions, for the sake of making space for another person’s voice to be heard.

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  • Shane

    I love this post. As a chaplain I strive everyday to be a better listener.

  • Listening is SO important, whether to the Lord or to one another. To those we love, those we meet, and those we don’t yet know. Even those who are offended by us and even our enemies. We need to learn to listen, hear and understand.

    I love the drink of water analogy, that is spot on. And I love what Julian Treasure says about listening.

  • MatthewS

    Such an important reminder.

    “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” – David Augsburger

  • Diane

    Wise words. I’m listening …

  • Thank you for posting this. I am a college chaplain. This past Wednesday morning, as I was meeting some students for breakfast, I was prompting them to identify their spiritual strengths. One student said “listening.” She’s a Quaker, and quietly listening for God is an important spiritual discipline in her tradition. She’s also a spiritual mentor in our residence halls, and she listens a lot to other students. I’ve forwarded the article on to her.

    Thanks again.