One who cares is one who listens.

J. Richard Clarke

Really listening and suspending one's own judgment is necessary in order to understand other people on their own terms.  As we have noted, this is a process that requires trust and builds trust.

Mary Field Belenky


Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us.

Alice Deur Miller


I spent most of my life waiting for my turn to speak.  If you’re at all like me, you’ll be pleasantly amazed at the softer reactions and looks of surprise as you let others completely finish their thought before you begin yours.  Often, you will be allowing someone to feel listened to for the first time.  You will sense a feeling of relief coming from the person to whom you are speaking—and a much calmer, less rushed feeling between the two of you.  No need to worry that you won’t get your turn to speak—you will.  In fact, it will be more rewarding to speak because the person you are speaking to will pick up on your respect and patience and will begin to do the same.

Richard Carlson

The learned person who only talks will never
Penetrate to the inner heart of humans.

Idries Shah

The first duty of love is to listen.

Paul Tillich

God speaks to us every day
only we don't know how to listen.

Mohandas Gandhi

The older I grow, the more I listen
to people who don't talk much.

Germain G. Glidden

Friends are those rare people who ask how
we are and then wait to hear the answer.

Ed Cunningham


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All things and all people, so to speak, call on us with small
or loud voices.  They want us to listen.  They want us
to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being.
But we can give it to them only through the love that listens.

Paul Tillich


Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.

Joyce Brothers


The golden rule of friendship is to listen to others as you
would have them listen to you.

David Augsburger


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

Prescriptions for Living


Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime
of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.

Doug Larson

Sainthood emerges when you can listen to someone's tale of woe
and not respond with a description of your own.

Andrew V. Mason


The greatest gift you can give another
is the purity of your attention.

Richard Moss

I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates,
my spouse, or my children because I constantly tell them what I think,
but I never really listen to them.  Unless I search out correct principles
of human interaction, I may not even know I need to listen.  Even if I
do know that in order to interact effectively with others I really need
to listen to them, I may not have the skill.  I may not know how
to really listen deeply to another human being.  But knowing I need
to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough.  Unless I want
to listen, unless I have the desire, it won't be a habit in my life.

Stephen R. Covey 

Listen, or your tongue will keep you deaf.

Native American Proverb


In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is
to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that
our questions are just as important as our answers.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers


Creative Listening
Wilferd A. Peterson

One of the most important habits of a creative thinker is to be a good listener.  Stand guard at the ear-gateway to your mind, heart, and spirit.

Listen to the good.  Tune your ears to love, hope, and courage.  Tune out gossip and resentment.

Listen to the beautiful.  Listen to the music of the masters.  Listen to the symphony of nature--the hum of the wind in the treetops, bird songs, thundering surf. . .

Listen critically.  Mentally challenge assertions, ideas, and philosophies.  Seek the truth with an open mind.

Listen with patience.  Do not hurry the other person.  Show them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say, no matter how much you may disagree.  You may learn something.

Listen with your heart.  Practice empathy when you listen.  Put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Listen for growth.  Be an inquisitive listener.  Ask questions.  Everyone has something to say which will help you to grow.

Listen creatively.  Listen for ideas or the germs of ideas.  Listen for hints or clues that may spark creative projects.

Listen to yourself.  Listen to your deepest yearnings, your highest aspirations, your noblest impulses.  Listen to the better person within you.

Listen with depth.  Be still and listen.  Listen with the ear of intuition to the inspiration of the Infinite.

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another
person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever
give each other is our attention.  And especially if it's given from the heart.
When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them.
Just take them in.  Listen to what they're saying.  Care about it.  Most
times caring about it is even more important than understanding it.  Most
of us don't value ourselves or our love enough to know this.  It has taken
me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, "I'm so sorry,"
when someone is in pain.  And meaning it.
   One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people
often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen
to them.  Subtly her pain became a story about themselves.  Eventually she
stopped talking to most people.  It was just too lonely.  We connect through
listening.  When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that
we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves.  When we listen,
they know we care.  Many people with cancer talk about
the relief of having someone just listen.

Rachel Naomi Remen
Kitchen Table Wisdom

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening
carefully.  Most people never listen.

Ernest Hemingway


Lawyers have a saying about conferences between legal opponents:  "The side
doing the talking is losing,"  For the longest time I thought that the test of my value
was what I had to say.  When I wasn't talking, I did listen to others, but with half
my mind figuring out what I'd say next.  It's as though I had been listening to music
and just registering the melody but not hearing the harmony, the instruments,
the subtleties of phrasing.  To really listen takes active attention.  To have listened
and absorbed the whole message, with all its connotations, its unspoken and
maybe unintended shadings, makes it likelier that when you do speak,
you will contribute more, and do so with fewer words.

John Walsh




Listening may be one of the most important activities we can choose to
participate in in our entire lives.  Listening--really good listening--involves
a great deal more than our ears.  To listen, we need to empty ourselves for
a while.  We need to adjourn the committee in our heads and invite its
members to take an extended vacation.  In order to listen fully, we have to
be able to dismiss idle head chatter, criticism, and judgmentalism. 
Otherwise, our heads are far too crowded to have room for anything new.
   We have to open our hearts as well.  The absolute very best listening is
done with our hearts, not our heads.  We have to be willing to let the words
enter our beings, where they can be tenderly sifted and sorted so that we
are available to know the various levels of their true meaning.  Then, we have
to be willing to open our beings so that the deep crevices of our ancient,
connected minds can caress that which goes beyond the frail utterance of words.
   Listening is a highly complex and intimate process.

Anne Wilson Schaef
Meditations for Living in Balance


And with listening, too, it seems to me, it is not the ear that hears, it is
not the physical organ that performs the act of inner receptivity.  It is the
total person who hears.  Sometimes the skin seems to be the best listener,
as it prickles and thrills, say to a sound or a silence; or the fantasy, the
imagination:  how it bursts into inner pictures as it listens and then responds
by pressing its language, its forms, into the listening clay.  To be open to
what we hear, to be open in what we say. . . .

M.C. Richards


You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.

M. Scott Peck



When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.


When someone deeply listens to you,
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!


When someone deeply listens to you,
your barefeet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.

John Fox

There is a silence that matches our best possibilities when
we have learned to listen to others.  We can master the art
of being quiet in order to be able to hear clearly what others
are saying. . . . We need to cut off the garbled static of our
own preoccupations to give to people who want our quiet attention.

Eugene Kennedy


The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you
will hear what is sounding outside.  Only they who listen can speak.

Dag Hammarskjold


Most experts in communication emphasize the power of attentive listening.  Too
often in conversation we focus not on what the other person is saying, but on
what we are going to say in response.  At times we cut the other person off even
before she has finished making her point.
To resolve difficult interactions, we have to go beyond a superficial attempt at
understanding.  We have to listen deeply for the clues that show us a meaning
beneath the words.  If we listen to someone carefully, we will hear certain words
or phrases that describe how the other person views the world.  What's more,
when we listen deeply to others, it makes them feel validated and understood.  It
lifts them into a higher awareness of who they are and what they believe.  This is
similar to what happens in the active listening of a therapeutic situation.

Salle Merrill Redfield
Creating a Life of Joy



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Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.
It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of
our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in
the people around us.  When we listen, we offer with our attention
an opportunity for wholeness.  Our listening creates sanctuary for
the homeless parts within the other person.  That which has been denied,
unloved, devalued by themselves and others.  That which is hidden.
   In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless.
   Listening creates a holy silence.  When you listen generously to people,
they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time.  And in
the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone.  Eventually
you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone,
the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.

Rachel Naomi Remen

My Grandfather's Blessings


We begin our lives listening to the many sounds surrounding us in the womb.  When
we are dying, the last faculty to shut down is usually hearing.  In between, there is
so much to see that we seldom take the time to cultivate the art of listening.  Listening
uses other practices:  attention, being present, openness.  It is holy work, involving in
the inventive phrase of W.A. Mathieu, a Sufi musician, "making an altar out of our ears."

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


What does it mean to listen to a voice before it is spoken?  It means
making space for the other, being aware of the other, paying attention
to the other, honoring the other.  It means not rushing to fill their
silences with fearful speech of our own and not trying to coerce them
into saying the things that we want to hear.  It means entering
empathetically into their world so that he or she perceives you as
someone who has the promise of being able to hear another person's truth.

Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach

Attentive listening is never an easy task--it consumes psychic energy
at a rate that tires and surprises me.  But it is made easier when I  am
holding back my own authoritative impulses.  When I suspend, for just
a while, my inner chatter about what I am going to say next, I open
room within myself to receive the external conversation.



One thing which makes us find so few people who appear reasonable and
agreeable in conversation is, that there is scarcely anyone who does not think
more of what they are about to say than of answering precisely what is said
to them. The cleverest and most complaisant people content themselves
with merely showing an attentive countenance, while we can see in their eyes
and minds a wandering from what is said to them, and an impatience to return
to what they wish to say; instead of reflecting that it is a bad method of
pleasing or persuading others to be so studious of pleasing oneself; and
that listening well and answering well is one of the greatest
perfections that can be attained in conversation.

Duc de la Rochefoucauld


To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said
beneath the words.  You listen not only to the "music," but to the
essence of the person speaking.  You listen not only for what
someone knows, but for what he or she is.  Ears operate at the
speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the
eyes take in.  Generative listening is the art of developing deeper
silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind's hearing to your
ears' natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.

Peter Senge


Listening deeply is still one of the most important things I can do
and teach my children to do.  The more space I give to listening
to my kids, the clearer my understanding is of what I need to do
next.  And if they can learn to listen to themselves, to know if
something feels right or safe or fair, and if they can learn to truly
listen to others, then they too will have a clearer path to action.

Rachel Neumann
Not Quite Nirvana: A Skeptic's Journey to Mindfulness


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When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen!  All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do. . . just hear me.
And I can do for myself.  I'm not helpless.  Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.  Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people. . . because God is mute and doesn't give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So please listen and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn. . . and I'll listen to you.

Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least
two lives.  Listening, as far as I'm concerned, is certainly a prerequisite
of love.  One of the most essential ways of saying "I love you"
is being a receptive listener.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers

Listening is where love begins:  listening to ourselves
and then to our neighbors.

Listening is a rare happening among human beings.  You cannot listen
to the word another is speaking if you are preoccupied with your
appearance, or with impressing the other, or are trying to decide what
you are going to say when the other stops talking, or are debating
about whether what is being said is true or relevant or agreeable.  Such
matters have their place, but only after listening to the word as the word
is being uttered.  Listening is a primitive act of love in which a person
gives him- or herself to another's word, making oneself
accessible and vulnerable to that word.

William Stringfellow
Friend's Journal (a Quaker monthly)


Simple science shows us that no two things can take up the same
space at the same time.  So it is with listening.  You cannot think
and listen; read and listen; day dream and listen; write and listen;
agree, disagree, argue, interpret, mind read, rehearse, plot, plan,
placate, or even listen and listen.  Listening requires our full and
focused attention on the other person.  Real listening truly
honors people.  Authentic Listening can actually heal people.

John Milton Fogg



Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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