The Art of Listening

'The Thinker'
'The Thinker'
'Sliced'

Contemplating the difference between networking and friendship, I wonder if, listening is a fundamental difference. I am not one for blowing my own trumpet but I would put listening high on my list of skills. Although, being silent whilst another person speaks does not always mean ‘good listening’.

I have become increasingly aware that having three male voices to listen to in my house, quite often all at the same time, I may add; I have developed an art of appearing to be listening whilst often thinking a million and one other things at the same time. Isn’t that what most of us do, really, if we are honest ?

It is quite rare I think for a man to be verbally descriptive about what happens in their day. However, even in his second language my husband vividly describes every detail of what happens in his eventful days. Which is fantastic. I can almost imagine I am was there with him. So, on his return from London the story he told me of the Debut Contemporary Exhibition opening was as colourful as his sculptures. It can be hard to concentrate and to properly listen, something I am not doing too well at the moment, but if we do we can reap the benefit.

Joel Kramer, “The Passionate Mind” describes ‘the art of listening’ brilliantly. I have often looked at this to remind me of how to take on board new information.

“Ordinarily what we do when we think we are listening is to take in the words, translate them into something we know or are familiar with,and then agree or disagree.

If the words fit our structures, our beliefs, the things we feel comfortable with, the things we know then the speaker is a wise man and we agree.

If the words do not please us, do not fit our structures and beliefs, do not give us pleasure, then the speaker is a fool and we disagree.

That is what most of us do and call it listening.

But if we are either agreeing or disagreeing, then we are not listening.

For to listen there must be an openness, an innocence, a putting away of old ideas, so that possible the fresh can come in.

If you are busily involved in either agreeing or disagreeing, and you can watch yourself doing this by the way you nod your head as you listen, then what you are doing is not listening at all,

and the new, which is the fount of growth and learning, does not come in.

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