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The Art of Listening

by Jean Holsten
The Art of Listening helps us to make connections and helps us to learn about others.
Dear Dialoguers:

Listening. The fine Art of Listening is a missing element in our interactions these days. I say Art because listening is not easy, and all listening is not the same. When someone is talking about a situation or position that fits well with your life view-then it is easy to listen. When people are expressing appreciation its not a problem to listen.
If someone talks too long (this can be a few minutes or a few hours) it is easy to zone out or let other thoughts intrude. If someone is saying something contrary to your view, experience or beliefs then our automatic defenses kick in and we start to create arguments, shut down or get ourselves out of the conversation. In these situations, rarely do we seek to learn more.
Listening, really listening, takes practice; and the practice can ebb and flow. Listening brings us to places of depth and mystery like music, poetry, and the visual arts. To slow down enough to be fully present, to fully listen, that takes practice. To engage with someone over the phone, video and in person can be challenging with all the other tasks and people competing for our time.
And nothing says you care or you value someone like listening- listening in such a way that you ask questions that clearly communicate two things: are paying attention (to them) and 2. you want to learn more (about them).
The more we listen. The more we learn. The more we learn the more connected we become. If I really listen to another especially when I am hearing positions or beliefs that are difficult for me, I am likely to hear the underlying values or story or belief. In that story and value is our humanity. There is nothing like our humanity to connect us. It is a shared experience worth listening to and understanding.
Our programs have listening at the core. Come explore ways to do this with us.
Happy Spring,
Jean Holsten, Director of Dialogue Programs

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