The Art of Listening

· March 27, 2018

Yes, listening is an art. After all, not everyone knows how to do it. Plus, staying silent until the other person stops talking is not the same as listening. Thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person explains their idea is not the same as listening.

Listening means processing what you’re hearing, giving it a meaning and making a real effort to understand. To understand, from their perspective, what they’re trying to share with you. In this sense, sometimes silence says a lot more than words. And because of this, it’s important to learn how to use it.

Many times listening is nothing more than that, just listening. There’s no need for you to say anything afterwards. But it does take trust. You need to understand the feelings of the person telling you their story and to connect with them. It also takes investment, which comes from patience and others-centeredness.

Sharing silence connects you to others. It’s a way to tell them they can count on you, with everything that implies. 

You’ll understand that listening opens a door to a person’s heart as soon as you stop listening to yourself. The second you stop thinking about your troubles and start seeing their suffering, you start really hearing what they are telling you. In that particular moment, at least, you care about their life, not yours.

You’ll want to hear how they really feel and not only how you think they feel. You will want them to feel you’re there for them. And that you won’t stop at saying easy things like, “I know”, “Me too”, “I understand.” Because by themselves, they don’t really help. You’re just going to be there, by their side, listening to them.

Create an ideal environment for listening

This ideal environment is a quiet one. You want silence although, to be honest, it’s uncomfortable at times. But it’s necessary. Silence gives us space to think and process the words we hear.

“Never break the silence, unless you can improve it.”
-L. V. Beethoven-

Two friends talking over a cup of coffee.

If you can handle the silence, you’ll get a relaxed, unrushed environment. Listening gives you hints as to what the other person needs, and you can only do this when you really focus on their story and how they tell it.

Silence is a pause that invites them to keep talking. Silence helps you listen to yourself, too. And finally, silence is a stage for talking, especially for people who aren’t very talkative and need a little push before taking the floor.

Just close your eyes and listen

Just close your eyes, shut your lips, and open your ears. Disconnect your brain and connect your heart. Now you are ready to listen. Everything around you has its own sound and if you’re talking, you won’t be able to hear it. Everyone who speaks to you tells you something about who they are and what they’ve been through. You can’t really know others if you only listen to yourself.

No more using words that are meant to end the conversation and shut them up. That is not listening. Sometimes listening means not giving a response or answer. Or maybe it calls for a simple reaction, like a hug or smile after they finish talking.

Focus on creating a listening context and nothing more. Concentrate on being willing to hear what the other person wants to tell you. That way, you’ll be able to react and know what to say and do next.

Two friends talking and listening at sunset.

Listening is an art, because it connects people with colorful strokes of a paintbrush. Listening is an art, because it gives you a chance to learn something you didn’t know before. It gives you entrance into new worlds and new emotions. Listening gives you a way to help.