I was invited to attend an online workshop on listening. I am a big fan of listening, so I said yes. In the workshop, good points were made about the difference between hearing and listening, what happens when you are listening for something in particular, fully listening vs. listening until you can jump in and problem-solve, and how much more quickly we listen and think than people speak.

In another meeting, someone said that we keep telling our story until it has been heard. We may tell parts of it to different people in different situations. Often, we begin and the conversation quickly moves on to something or someone else, and our story is paused.

If we get to tell the whole story, it can be completed and we can hear ourselves, maybe make new observations, listen for limitations, and uncover hidden treasures in our speaking. If our listener says, ”Tell me more about that,” rather than “me, too,” or “here’s what I think,” what might we think or say that otherwise would not have emerged?

It could be a friend, a therapist, a coach, your mom (if you are lucky enough that she’s still around), another family member, or a person you met in an online discussion. It could be a person with a completely different background and upbringing from yours.  It could be your spouse, especially if you have a reciprocal ability to listen to one another.

We are all inventing new stories now. Listening to one another takes time. It is a gift to listen and to make room for the new stories to come out. It is such a gift to trust in someone and speak without censoring. This is the time. This is the time to offer the gifts of speaking and listening authentically so that our new story can be one we collectively create.

—Lucy

2 Comments

  1. Lynn Mitchell

    For me, listening is the same as breathing. When I am actively listening and accepting what is being told, I can feel my breath responding and relaxing into the rhythm of the words whether they’re written or spoken. However, if I’m having difficulties understanding or accepting what is being said, my breathing rhythm becomes labored and tightened. Ultimately, this reaction becomes so uncomfortable that I have to react. Sometimes just reacting has negative consequences,so I have learned to mentally remind myself to quiet my breath returning to a calming rhythm. It’s in this way I can come to a better understanding of whatever that situation requires.

    Reply
    • Lucy Freedman

      Dear Lynn, What a beautiful description of what you noticed about your listening and your responses. Great skill to come back to a calming rhythm and return to being present. Lovely. Thank you for commenting.

      Reply

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