Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shut up and Listen

I have a friend (whose blog I have on my blogroll - Living Deliberately) who is experiencing what so many of us (me, some of you who read here) have gone through—suspicious scrutiny when expressing interest in and questions about what is perceived as heresy by "one's group." She wrote eloquently about "listening" here.

Here's a taste:
I’ve been thinking about how to listen.

Can I do it well if I am arguing with the teller while they are speaking? Can I do it well if I approach it with my mind predisposed to disagree? Can I listen well if I interrupt, or I am afraid of them, or if I treat them with suspicion?

Can I listen and defend at the same time? Can I say I’ve really listened to what another thinks, if rather than hearing from them, I heard it from a third party who may or may not be honestly representing them?

I’ve recently been reminded of how threatened others can feel when someone is trying to listen to another. Not unike a petulant sibling who wants Mom’s attention all to themselves, and is jealous and angry that little brother has her ear. Even though I know this to be the case, I still wonder why it’s true.

Listening is not deciding. And someone who respects another’s intelligence will afford them the space to listen and contemplate with integrity.

I think everyone wants to feel heard. And every idea has a person behind it. It’s okay to get to know the souls behind the concepts.

And what a wide, wonderful world it is when you can see the eyes of a human, their needs, their desires, their cares, instead of just their idea.

This friend is reading about Catholicism and Orthodoxy. To date, she's been reformed Protestant. Pass the popcorn.

One of my professors says that dialog can't occur without risk. Risky listening means that we're willing to revise an idea or understanding or belief or perspective. We may not reach new conclusions (though we may!), but we enter into dialog willing to, willing to see newly, differently. We also risk our stereotypes and preconceptions in dialog, wanting to get behind ideas to people, as Tia says so eloquently above.

Without risky listening, we merely have presentation versus presentation. Think Talk Radio, think TV political debate shows. There is no dialog because in truth, nothing is at stake, no one is risking anything.

Shout out to Tia for risking and listening. Bon Courage!


Kansas Bob said...

I wonder if we can ever truly listen with our brains? Maybe true listening is a matter of the heart?

julieunplugged said...

I totally agree! It is a heart matter.