Listening. It may seem like a simple task of processing what you hear, but is that really listening? People rush or wind their way through life, but in the midst of it all how often do they truly listen?
Listening involves so much more than hearing what is being said or done. It is the act of understanding what you hear. It is the precious aspect of absorbing your environment. It is the process of creating time and space for meaning. A good listener is always in demand and hard to come by.
This piece may seem a little metaphysical for a Triangle column, but please bear with me as I try to relay something I have been reflecting on lately.
Conversation is a constant part of each day, but when we speak to each other, how much do we listen? In order to truly listen we must be completely present and in the moment. It is challenging to detach ourselves from the flow of the day at a moment’s notice and focus our energy on paying attention to a conversation. The reward of making the effort to listen is that we can learn so much more about a person than what their words are saying. The context and the subtext of a conversation are always speaking.
As we move about each day, we overhear hundreds of bits and pieces of conversation, most of which we conveniently tune out without even realizing it. There is a lot of knowledge and insight to be gained about our community by tuning into those little strains of noise that glide through its air waves. Your environment is always speaking.
An underappreciated aspect of listening is the need to listen to ourselves. For most of us at Bryan, life is a rush. It is full of continual doing. In the midst of each day there are many things that our heart, mind and body are trying to tell us, but we leave no voice for them because we are not listening. Try to let your cares, burdens and doings hang for a moment in time and listen. There are many lessons to be learned in silence.
Listening is not convenient and it requires real work. It is essential to developing a sharp mind and open heart. It is a key that unlocks many doors.
A good listener is able to pick out voices and moods in a room full of people. A great listener is able to hear the proverbial pin drop. A great listener knows that listening is the challenge of a lifetime.