"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." --Stephen R. Covey
I open with this quote because most people know Stephen Covey for his smash hit 7 Habits. The fact the book series was such a success is attributed to our inner desire to improve, to grow and for personal advancement.
In Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, she says that empathy is being able to listen and to take the time to actually put ones self in a place of understanding for what is being told.
Not only would this help us build empathy, but by stretching our minds it is like studying text or reading a book - we learn and imagine and expand our thought.
So, why is it so many do not listen? Our ego takes over and before time runs out we must assert our opinions and be right or be heard and get noticed. Patience has no place in this hurried society. This is how we get ahead in the world, not by understanding, we justify.
"Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking." --Bernard Baruch
Listening is an act of meditation. Uncovering the art of listening is like finding a hidden library in which there are stories galore to indulge in. Of course, some are indeed better than others, yet when deciding to take the time to listen it is important to do it with mindfulness and intention, to be fully present.
By not cultivating the art of listening we let the being with golden treasures slip away with the secrets to the universe. Maybe that is a little extreme. But maybe not. Have you heard the parable about the stranger that comes to the door ragged and poor and hungry and is taken in and treated kindly? (spoiler alert: the stranger turns out to be God) Or the tale of the Grateful Crane in Japanese mythology? Often answers come to us in ways unexpected such as a stranger telling a tale, or nature (or birds, or animals) giving hints or even the voices within ourselves. Do you listen to your heart? Do you balance it with what your mind says?
"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." --Doug Larson
Listening also takes discipline. So, how disciplined are you? How about courtesy and politeness - both which fall behind to discipline, yet are still effective tools to cultivate skills despite their shallowness. Discipline is the artfulness of culling that which our will desires. When given parameters to live within and figuring out the puzzle, which is why often when people are given that which seems limitless they often falter and fall to their own destruction without direction.
Listening versus talking. “For an hour, two hours, or three hours, or four hours, every single day, I am forced to forget about myself,” says Brandon Stanton on the Thrive Global podcast. I have been reading Thrive and I feel I will read it again, or perhaps listen to it. The words flow through my mind with gripping fervor.
Forgetting about ourselves. Can you imagine forgetting about yourself for hours a day soaking in the stories of others and having to synthesize all that information? It is remarkable, really. It is also probably unrealistic for most which is why a busy person could challenge themselves with maybe limiting to, say, a half hour for random people and intentional listening for work situations or the like. Just putting the ego aside and taking some time, maybe a month or two, to just practice the discipline of tuning into the world more deeply.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? That is what listening is after all.