Before you can listen

"To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept."
- Henri Nouwen

To reach that point where you don't see everything the other person says just as a potential launching point for a story about yourself and how something just like that/even worse than that happened to you once...I will aspire to that. I think this holds not just for listening, but for any kind of interaction. There is a base level of security in oneself needed simply to interact with other people, as I have felt acutely at times when I lacked it. A certain amount of peace so that I can see people as more than threats to myself, so I don't have to obey my judgmental and fearful tendencies.

Thoughts?

8 comments:

pinkapplecore 5/04/2010 4:13 PM  

I do believe that there are moments were we just want to talk to someone and they listen...not try to upstage or relate...just listen.

Jenica 5/04/2010 4:15 PM  

it's funny that you would say you need security to listen. I think I'm a good listener, but that's at least partly because I feel insecure when talking about myself

typewriter heather 5/04/2010 5:33 PM  

The best things spoken are said after long periods of listening.

aipingplum 5/04/2010 7:57 PM  

If we respond to this post, does that mean we lack the inner stability to not feel the need to make our presence/opinions known? ;) I kid. I love this quote, though, and I also really like the point that Jenica made. I think that good listening sometimes means not-talking-or-responding, but sometimes it does require a verbal response. It's not so black and white as simply--it's better to verbally respond less. Sometimes by sharing or opening up, others feel more comfortable to do the same. Or sometimes by giving verbal feedback, we are showing that we did in fact listen. But sometimes non-verbal feedback is more important, and sometimes we do speak just because we want to be heard. It's good to be in touch w/ yourself enough to know when you're speaking to be heard out of your inner insecurity, and when you are truly speaking for the benefit of the other.

warmchocmilk 5/04/2010 8:18 PM  

I was at a family wedding this weekend and I think I talked too much. You are right, I often half listen and then jump in with my comment..it's sickening! Sometimes I need to force myself to just shut up and listen!

Holly 5/04/2010 10:11 PM  

pinkapplecore - yeah, not so much for the conversation...

Jenica - Hmm. I realize I've been in that position too. Where does that fit...

typewriter heather - most definitely true.

aipingplum - haha, you so clever. but you are quite right, i think. last sentence, spesh.

warmchocmilk - oh gosh, I know the feeling.

erin 5/06/2010 8:29 PM  

I think that naturally I listen because I am shy and prefer listening to talking. But lately when I feel insecure I've noticed I talk more. And not because I have something good to say, just pointless babble when I'm self-conscious. This is interesting. I'm glad you posted this, it's easy to really get out of hand and forget to simply listen in the way pinkapplecore described.

Holly 5/09/2010 11:46 PM  

limespark - heh. althought alternately, one of my more quiet friends likes to have nervous-talking people around in new situations because they take the burden off of her...;)

erin - mm, i definitely remain quiet when i'm insecure. or in large groups, even if i am secure.

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