This over-preached word… with so many clichés… all true, all good, all noble.
Yes, we should listen more than we speak. We should seek the deeper meaning behind the words we hear. We should stop what we are doing and really listen to our children.
But what can I write about it that hasn’t already been powerfully written?
Except that listening makes us hypocrites.
Okay, only in a slight way… but it struck me that in order to be listened to I must stop listening. That thing which I want… to be deeply heard… can only come when I stop doing it for others.
If even for a moment.
And when I listen… I allow someone else to be heard at the expense of my own being listened to. Or of anyone else being listened to.
What does that mean for us? Should we stop listening and somehow thwart our own desire to be heard?
No… because what a precious gift it is… to be given and to receive, this thing we call listening.
But it can also be a snare… one that silences us when we should speak… and one that can cause us to silence others when it is their turn to be heard.
What an opportunity for putting others before ourselves, sacrificially loving them enough to delay our own gratification to be heard.
What an opportunity to be good coaches and friends in helping others to share the “listening” space as well. To lovingly come alongside and model that a good conversation, where both people are heard, comes with turn-taking and sharing. Yes, those basic Kindergarten lessons come back to haunt us adults, even in the way we use our ears and hearts and minds on behalf of others.
So am I a hypocrite when I speak to be heard? Only if my own longing overpowers my ability to also listen to others.
Am I a hypocrite when I listen to an endless stream of another’s thought, when I also wish to be heard? Maybe not a hypocrite but perhaps a bad friend. Some people genuinely don’t realize when they monopolize a conversation and inhibit the other from their same desire… being heard. Listening to someone without gently coaching them through good conversational practices might be more “comfortable” in the moment, but often dredges up resentment, feelings of avoidance (for future conversations with this person) and allows them to continue living on in ignorance of what makes a good conversationalist.
Listening involves the sacrificial act of putting another person before yourself, another’s desires before your own, and actively loving them with your ears, heart, and mind.
May we strengthen this practice and find it given generously to us as well!