March 29

Today's quotation:

Most conversations are just alternating monologues.
The question is:  is there any real listening going on?

Leo Buscaglia

Today's Meditation:

I've spent much of my life waiting my turn.  I've thought of what I want to say, then I've waited politely for there to be a pause in the conversation so that I could make my contribution and say what I want to say.  The way I've figured, the more I say that's wise or relevant or witty, the more others will respect me and want to spend more time talking to me.

That worked well as a strategy as long as I stayed ignorant to the results of such a way of acting.  It wasn't until I really needed other people to listen to me and I found out that they were just waiting their turns, too, that I realized just how unfulfilling those conversations can be.  Listening--truly and actively listening--can be one of the most difficult tasks we can undertake, but also one of the most important.

I've found since I've learned to really listen that I learn so much more about other people.  Before, I learned only what they had to think about a certain topic.  But when someone notices me really listening, they're much more able and willing to open up about deeper things, things that they've wished that they could talk about--but since they haven't found too many people who actually listen, they haven't had a chance to open up truly and deeply.  And by listening, I help them.  Just by listening.  It's an awesome thought, isn't it?

The next time you're involved in a conversation, try this:  listen closely to what the other person says.  If you have a response ready as soon as the other person is done, then you haven't listened completely, for you've been formulating your reply.  If you have to wait a few seconds to let their words sink in before you reply, then you have listened.

And if they ask why you're not responding and you say something like "I'm just thinking about what you said," think of the positive effect that this sort of respect for their words and ideas will have on them!

Questions to consider:

Where do we learn how to listen?  Who are our role models?

Why might we be more interested in sharing our own ideas than in carefully considering the ideas of others?

What are the positive effects of careful listening on both sides of the conversation?

For further thought:

You can hear your loved ones no matter how poorly your ears work.  I know deaf people who are able to hear with their hearts.  And I know people with perfect ears who drive their families crazy with their lack of hearing.  I know about this firsthand because our children used to get upset when I read the paper and watched television while they were talking to me.  They'd say, "Dad, you're not listening."  I would repeat all the things they said to prove I was listening, but they told me that being able to repeat their words was not the same thing as hearing them.  Hearing means listening attentively to what they had to say.  Today when one of the children wants to talk to me, I put down the paper, turn off the television and listen to what he has to tell me. . . . I also have learned how to say "m-m-m" in many ways and to stop trying to solve everyone's problems.  They thank me for listening.  It helps them to clarify and solve their problems.

Bernie Siegel


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