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When Was the Last Time Someone Deeply Listened to You?

When was the last time someone really listened to you? Gave you their full attention with no time limits?  Where they sat down and listened instead of Swiffering their kitchen floor or silently surfing Facebook while you talked on the phone?

It’s a rare and precious gift — listening.  I used to meet weekly with a group of women.  We’d write and share and witness each other’s words, feelings, lives.  Then it became difficult for us to meet every week.  There were too many schedule conflicts so we planned to meet once a month instead. I thought I would be OK with the new monthly gatherings because my schedule was one of the ones that conflicted with our group but turns out I’m not OK with it.  It feels like a big loss.  Out in the real world there are not many opportunities for pure listening. It’s rare to feel so safe and nurtured. In the real world we must multi-task and do rather than listen and be.

We’ll Have to Get Together and Talk (Yeah Right)

I have many dear friends who have listened in the past and whom I have listened to. Now we struggle to find time to connect.  If we do bump into each other there is always a sense of being on the clock. Or it’s been so long since we talked that we just take turns spilling our stories.  Like passing a microphone,it’s more waiting to speak than actual listening. When we’re done we rush back to our regularly scheduled program.

If we do have time at the end of the day to catch up with someone, we are too tired and would rather passively listen to the television, connect online with IM chats or status updates (typing/talking and reading not full-out listening) or go to bed early.

Did You Hear Me?

As a mother I spend a lot of time with my kids.  We want kids to listen to us but we mustn’t burden them with our feelings, troubles or frustrations.  Keep that to yourself.  Work it out and show the kids and everyone else how strong you are.  Meanwhile you give them your full attention and listen eagerly whenever they let you in on their latest worries or wonders.  We cherish any communication that involves eye contact. We know there is a lot of tuning out going on.

Sooner or later listening without being heard feels like a balloon losing air.  It’s hard to be available and engaged when you feel lifeless or used.

More Listening Less Unhappiness

Listening is free and spreads empathy and could possibly change the world but instead we fill our days with activities that keep us busy but rarely give us space to really hear each other.

The beautiful thing about feeling heard is that it makes you want to return the gift by listening with your whole being.  You want to match the level of care you felt while being listened to.

Old people are lonely.  They make doctor’s appointments to have someone to talk to, to have someone listen to them.  Kids act out because they can’t get their parents undivided attention.  Adults stress out because they have no sounding boards for their frustrations.  If listening was a common practice, a daily ritual, how much of this would go away?

How often do you really listen to others?  Do you feel heard yourself? 

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14 Comments

  1. Angi November 13, 2013 at 11:32 am - Reply

    As a society, we have busied ourselves out of really listening to each other. Heck, I don’t even have any close friends anymore. People are too busy for other people and it makes me sad. My family is scattered all over the country. I try to keep our family’s activities to a minimum but it still seems like we meet each other coming and going. As an introvert, my energy is pretty much spent just taking care of my family which leaves me with nothing to invest in other relationships. I know its just a season, but is it really or is this just the normal way of the world now? I wish we could go back to the simpler times when family and community meant more than gadgets and activity-packed schedules. Sorry this is so long, but I this is something I feel very strongly about. Thank you for sharing this again.

    • Brenda Knowles November 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      I feel strongly about this too. I spent last night with my writing sisters – a group I’ve been a part of for years. We used to meet weekly but now we meet monthly and usually someone is missing. There is so much good energy when we do get together. We fill each other up and listen with our hearts wide open. I wish this kind of group/connection for everyone.

      I am like you in that my family is spread out all over the country and my kids are busy. I only have one of my three children in a sport right now though. The other two haven’t found anything that grabs them and I’m fine with that. We do still have dinner together as often as possible and I love that. I think our whole family is happiest when we aren’t running crazy. We are in a mellow spell now and there are less arguments. When my boys were both in sports for the fall we were running the roads and eating quickly and haphazardly between activities. Lots of bickering. I’m enjoying this current lull and I think they are too.

      Thank you for using your voice and commenting.:)

  2. […] When Was the Last Time Someone Deeply Listened to You? […]

  3. Debbi November 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    I read this a yesterday, but I had to think on it. The conversations I have with ou, I know I don’t always hit it, but I believe firmly that we both try solidly to truly listen to the other and support them including back and forth conversations to support our points but not override the other person’s story or issue. I think we do well with that.

    With many other people in my life…important people…I find myself having to say “You’re not listening to what I’m trying to tell you.” They give me a random simple superficial answer that shows they were half listening and do not get the meat of my point. I have been calling them out on it, but it’s frustrating to have to actually step through one point at a time what you are trying to tell them, get them to understand, and then finally get support from them on. It is exhausting.

    I think you have a valid point in this article.

    • brennagee November 12, 2012 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Yes, you and I are like an old married couple working on our communication. We do work at listening and talking equally. We’re the best of friends and we care.:)

      I admire your determination to get others to really hear what you are saying. I’m more likely to walk away from them and find someone who does listen well or just go write it out on space2live.;)

      Thanks for reading and commenting Debbi dear.

  4. […] When Was the Last Time Someone Deeply Listened to You? (space2live.net) […]

  5. Mema November 10, 2012 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Just like yoga, this is a practice that needs to be learned. Thankfully, I have two wonderful women (my mom & sister) who have cheerily listened to all of my chatter: benign or poignant. I have found myself growing into a listener more & more because it feels more rewarding. I tire of my own rhetoric.

    • brennagee November 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      You are right. Listening is rewarding. I think we are rewarded with resonance, a sense of connection to all. You are so fortunate to have two good listeners in your life. May you continue to grow as a listener and reap its beautiful rewards. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  6. OneHotMess November 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Frankly, for me, it has been a long, danged, time. I listen well—sometimes better than other, but I try. I think I need to be heard soon-ish 😉 Thank you for helping me figure out where the little hole is in my life 😉

    • brennagee November 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      I think I am due as well.;) Those who do listen to me are golden. May a most attentive listener appear in your life very soon. Nothing better than feeling heard.:) Thanks for your delightful comments.

  7. David Kanigan November 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Yes. Major problem in society, in workplace and at home…great post

    • brennagee November 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks David. I believe listening is a cure for many things.:)

  8. Doug Toft November 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the reminder. Deep listening transcends all technique. It is sacred, powerful, and rare. I once worked with a small company full of skilled listeners. The experience blew me away.

    • brennagee November 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Deep listening is therapeutic. How fortunate to have worked in a company full of good listeners. I dream of that setting.:) Thanks Doug. Nice to see your smiling face.

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