Have you ever looked at the word LISTEN…really looked and taken notice?

The same letters moved around create the word SILENT…

I wonder is there something in this?!?  A message for each of us…

In order to listen we have to be silent.  Listening is more than just hearing the words of the other person in a conversation. Listening requires time – effort – energy – openness to the other – a willingness to participate in the encounter and above all patience.  Only when we employ all of these attributes are we really listening to the other – only when we engage fully with the other are we open to being surprised…changed…transformed by their words and thoughts spoken aloud to us.

Ask yourself…HOW do I listen?

Do I listen to respond or do I listen to understand?

Often we listen with the intention of responding.  This means when the other is speaking I am not listening fully…listening deeply with all my attention. Rather I am busy in my head formulating a response to their thoughts.  To listen requires silence…it is in the silence that I can then formulate my reply to the other. It means I am listening to understand. It means I have paid attention to their words…their thoughts…their expression and their body language as they are speaking.  My response to them then is fuller…it is a response that may ask questions…seek greater clarity…before I offer my own thoughts.

Listening is never easy…sometimes it is easier to “play deaf”. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand. It means I value and respect the speaker and want to ponder their words.  Listening involves sacrificing something of myself to allow the other to take the centre.  In allowing them space…time…to say what they want/need to say to me I am respecting them as a person. Listening is more than just hearing, it is a movement of the heart – an openness to the encounter with the other. It is a dimension of love received and love given. 

Communication grows and develops when we notice how we listen…to whom we listen…to what do we listen.

It is a challenge to always notice how we listen…it takes time…it asks us to be aware of ourselves in each encounter of each day…

So let us not be afraid of the silence that allows to listen…

Sr Karen OSU

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