Quotes for
the Journey:

Listening



  
Listen, or your tongue
will keep you deaf.

Native North
American proverb

   

The learned person who only talks will never Penetrate to the inner heart of humans.       -Idries Shah

   

Really listening and suspending one's own judgment is necessary in order to understand other people on their own terms.  As we have noted, this is a process that requires trust and builds trust.        -Mary Field Belenky

   
All things and all people, so to speak, call on us with small or loud voices.  They want us to listen.  They want us to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being.  But we can give it to them only through the love that listens.        -Paul Tillich
   

We begin our lives listening to the many sounds surrounding us in the womb.  When we are dying, the last faculty to shut down is usually hearing.  In between, there is so much to see that we seldom take the time to cultivate the art of listening.  Listening uses other practices:  attention, being present, openness.  It is holy work, involving in the inventive phrase of W.A. Mathieu, a Sufi musician, "making an altar out of our ears."         -Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

   
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.        -Doug Larson
    
Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us.        -Alice Deur Miller

  
I spent most of my life waiting for my turn to speak.  If you’re at all like me, you’ll be pleasantly amazed at the softer reactions and looks of surprise as you let others completely finish their thought before you begin yours.  Often, you will be allowing someone to feel listened to for the first time.  You will sense a feeling of relief coming from the person to whom you are speaking—and a much calmer, less rushed feeling between the two of you.  No need to worry that you won’t get your turn to speak—you will.  In fact, it will be more rewarding to speak because the person you are speaking to will pick up on your respect and patience and will begin to do the same.         -Richard Carlson
    
I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates, my spouse, or my children because I constantly tell them what I think, but I never really listen to them.  Unless I search out correct principles of human interaction, I may not even know I need to listen.  Even if I do know that in order to interact effectively with others I really need to listen to them, I may not have the skill.  I may not know how to really listen deeply to another human being.  But knowing I need to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough.  Unless I want to listen, unless I have the desire, it won't be a habit in my life.         -Stephen R. Covey
     
One who cares is one who listens.       -J. Richard Clarke
    
Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.       -Joyce Brothers
   
Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.  It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us.  When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness.  Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.  That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others.  That which is hidden.
     In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless.
     Listening creates a holy silence.  When you listen generously to people, they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time.  And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone.  Eventually you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.        -Rachel Naomi Remen
   
The golden rule of friendship is to listen to others as you would have them listen to you.        -David Augsburger
    
The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don't talk much.        -Germain G. Glidden
    
God speaks to us every day only we don't know how to listen.       -Mohandas Gandhi
   
Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.       -Ed Cunningham
   

You can hear your loved ones no matter how poorly your ears work.  I know deaf people who are able to hear with their hearts.  And I know people with perfect ears who drive their families crazy with their lack of hearing.  I know about this firsthand because our children used to get upset when I read the paper and watched television while they were talking to me.  They'd say, "Dad, you're not listening."  I would repeat all the things they said to prove I was listening, but they told me that being able to repeat their words was not the same thing as hearing them.  Hearing means listening attentively to what they had to say.  Today when one of the children wants to talk to me, I put down the paper, turn off the television and listen to what he has to tell me. . . . I also have learned how to say "m-m-m" in many ways and to stop trying to solve everyone's problems.  They thank me for listening.  It helps them to clarify and solve their problems.       -Bernie Siegel

    
Sainthood emerges when you can listen to someone's tale of woe and not respond with a description of your own.       -Andrew V. Mason
    
The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.       -Richard Moss
    
The first duty of love is to listen.       -Paul Tillich
   
    
Creative Listening
Wilferd A. Peterson

One of the most important habits of a creative thinker is to be a good listener.  Stand guard at the ear-gateway to your mind, heart, and spirit.

Listen to the good.  Tune your ears to love, hope, and courage.  Tune out gossip and resentment.

Listen to the beautiful.  Listen to the music of the masters.  Listen to the symphony of nature--the hum of the wind in the treetops, bird songs, thundering surf. . .

Listen critically.  Mentally challenge assertions, ideas, and philosophies.  Seek the truth with an open mind.

Listen with patience.  Do not hurry the other person.  Show them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say, no matter how much you may disagree.  You may learn something.

Listen with your heart.  Practice empathy when you listen.  Put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Listen for growth.  Be an inquisitive listener.  Ask questions.  Everyone has something to say which will help you to grow.

Listen creatively.  Listen for ideas or the germs of ideas.  Listen for hints or clues that may spark creative projects.

Listen to yourself.  Listen to your deepest yearnings, your highest aspirations, your noblest impulses.  Listen to the better person within you.

Listen with depth.  Be still and listen.  Listen with the ear of intuition to the inspiration of the Infinite.

    
I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.  And especially if it's given from the heart.  When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them.  Just take them in.  Listen to what they're saying.  Care about it.  Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it.  Most of us don't value ourselves or our love enough to know this.  It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain.  And meaning it.
   One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them.  Subtly her pain became a story about themselves.  Eventually she stopped talking to most people.  It was just too lonely.  We connect through listening.  When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves.  When we listen, they know we care.  Many people with cancer talk about the relief of having someone just listen.        -Rachel Naomi Remen
  

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Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening, as far as I'm concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying 'I love you' is being a receptive listener.     -Fred Rogers
  
One thing which makes us find so few people who appear reasonable and agreeable in conversation is, that there is scarcely anyone who does not think more of what they are about to say than of answering precisely what is said to them. The cleverest and most complaisant people content themselves with merely showing an attentive countenance, while we can see in their eyes and minds a wandering from what is said to them, and an impatience to return to what they wish to say; instead of reflecting that it is a bad method of pleasing or persuading others to be so studious of pleasing oneself; and that listening well and answering well is one of the greatest perfections that can be attained in conversation.     -Duc de la Rochefoucauld
  
What does it mean to listen to a voice before it is spoken?  It means making space for the other, being aware of the other, paying attention to the other, honoring the other.  It means not rushing to fill their silences with fearful speech of our own and not trying to coerce them into saying the things that we want to hear.  It means entering empathetically into their world so that he or she perceives you as someone who has the promise of being able to hear another person's truth.

Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach

Attentive listening is never an easy task--it consumes psychic energy at a rate that tires and surprises me.  But it is made easier when I  am holding back my own authoritative impulses.  When I suspend, for just a while, my inner chatter about what I am going to say next, I open room within myself to receive the external conversation.
  
The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.  Only they who listen can speak.     -Dag Hammarskjold
  
There is a silence that matches our best possibilities when we have learned to listen to others.  We can master the art of being quiet in order to be able to hear clearly what others are saying. . . . We need to cut off the garbled static of our own preoccupations to give to people who want our quiet attention.     -Eugene Kennedy
  
You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.     -M. Scott Peck
  
And with listening, too, it seems to me, it is not the ear that hears, it is not the physical organ that performs the act of inner receptivity.  It is the total person who hears.  Sometimes the skin seems to be the best listener, as it prickles and thrills, say to a sound or a silence; or the fantasy, the imagination:  how it bursts into inner pictures as it listens and then responds by pressing its language, its forms, into the listening clay.  To be open to what we hear, to be open in what we say. . . .     -M.C. Richards
  

  
Lawyers have a saying about conferences between legal opponents:  "The side doing the talking is losing,"  For the longest time I thought that the test of my value was what I had to say.  When I wasn't talking, I did listen to others, but with half my mind figuring out what I'd say next.  It's as though I had been listening to music and just registering the melody but not hearing the harmony, the instruments, the subtleties of phrasing.  To really listen takes active attention.  To have listened and absorbed the whole message, with all its connotations, its unspoken and maybe unintended shadings, makes it likelier that when you do speak, you will contribute more, and do so with fewer words.     -John Walsh
  
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.  Most people never listen.     -Ernest Hemingway
  

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