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Just Listen

How often do you feel heard? In our busy world–often of self interest– we each seem to spend more time trying to be heard, than we do to truly listen to another. The problem with that is, if everyone is trying to be heard–“ain’t no one listening!”

In her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachael Naomi Remen, M.D. says:

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect with another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give to another is our attention.

She goes on to say the most important gift we can give another is understanding. That one of her patients had said when she tried to tell another person of her pain, they quickly responded with the retelling of a time when they experienced something similar to that. What had been her story, soon became their story. The patient said in the end, she just stopped talking to people, for it became too lonely.

She goes on to say:

When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know we understand we move the attention from the other person to ourselves. When we listen, they know we care. …A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.

Even handing someone a tissue can indicate we want them to stop crying. It can take them out of the situation, when what they need is to stay in it. To have someone just listen to  them.

As women, sometimes we fall into the temptation of doing more talking than we do listening. I encourage you, and remind myself, to spend more time truly listening to others–hearing what they say–truly hearing.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. This really resonates with me because I have a tough time being heard – especially by my friends who interupt me every time their cell phones chirp. I’m also trying to make a conscious effort to just be there and listen to my friends vent about their problems without interjecting wtih advice. Great post! I hope a lot of people read it and learn from it.

    December 5, 2011
  2. Profile photo of Sylvia Dickey Smith

    Thanks, Jessica. Yes, cell phones are a blessing and a curse. One thing I try to remind myself when friends are venting is to ask them if they are wanting advice, or just someone to listen while they vent. So often, a person just needs another to be there and truly hear them. But so often we feel like we need to ‘give advice.’ Tell them what WE think they should do–when no one really can, because we are NOT them. Thanks for the comment and dropping by.

    December 5, 2011

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