“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” Ralph Nichols
My personal definition for art is “a loving and holy expression of self”. Art is a language I speak. Listening is an expression of art. Using the analogy of art I am able to focus more on the subject of listening. Language and meaning are mysteriously and continuously in search of expression. When I listen with empathy I discover a fleeting glimpse of comprehension.
A primary need of the human condition is to understand and be understood. Active and artful listening requires focus, discipline, and humility. When the art of listening is executed well, a feeling of respect, and an acknowledgement of value are rendered. I call this Love.
M. Scott Peck defines the Art of Listening as bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices in order to experience the speaker’s world from the inside. I equate the term bracketing to being in the present moment. I can think of nothing more dynamic than a conversation with active listening and expansion of self-resulting in a new direction of topic. A shared microcosm of discovery becomes electrified by the gift of being understood and understanding.
“A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.” Phillips Brooks
It is my dream to communicate my language of art with empathy and understanding. It is the Art of Listening. How can it be practiced?
- Listen with your heart not with your head.
- Be in a museum of quiet while focusing on the art “listening”.
- Breathe deeply and relax your body.
- Wait for the opportunity to ask an effective question.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Paraphrase the internal meaning with the external words.
- If you interrupt (this is what I am famous for) ask forgiveness, and return to #1!
- If you feel rejected or ignored try the art of listening.
- Listen consciously without external noise.
- Schedule a time to listen.
- Practice listening every day, in your day-to-day interactions.
- Listen for the story.
- I find the stories to be the best part of listening.
- Listening helps me hear me.
- Artful listening feels good.
- Mindful listening helps me know your gifts.
- I feel holy when I “hear” someone speak.
- I love me more when I take the time to listen.
- Listening can be done without words.
- Listening is an act of compassion.
Many Thanks to Monica Macha for writing this post.
Love & laughter Always! – John