Listening as an act of love

February 10, 2017

listeningWho would’ve thought listening –real listening, without distraction — would be such a rarity in the 21st century? That kind of listening that shows our complete focus is on the other person, that we are really taking in what they have to say, what’s on their mind, their point, the spoken stuff and–even as important–the unspoken stuff. That’s the stuff that takes our full attention. Otherwise, we don’t notice it.

Being heard is a gift my good friends give to me and, I hope, I give to them.  But listening is not the norm. Sadly.

It’s distraction that’s the norm in this world of ours, since we carry with us at all times a device that connects us with not only our friends but millions upon millions of others.

So yes, listening is a rarity these days.

My friend, Walker Thornton, usually blogs about sex. But she’s allowed me to share one of her posts about listening.  And here it is:

50 comments on “Listening as an act of love
  1. I love this concept! It’s so true though, everyone is so interested in their phones or other devices that they may not give their full attention to someone who really needs it. Even friends and family members do this! People also love in different ways but listening I think is such a powerful way.

  2. I fall into the trap of thinking about my reply while the other person is still speaking. My husband isn’t chatty at all so listening is a real act of love in our house.

  3. Jennifer says:

    It is something I struggle with all the time. I was told to look at people while they speak and to not form an answer until they are done. It’s the hardest thing to do.

  4. Amber Myers says:

    This is important! I try hard to listen, but there are so many distractions these days. If someone wants to talk though, I make a point to put my phone away.

    • Amber,
      Putting the phone away can be a great cue for active listening. And so could the idea that every communication has something of value in it.
      I’m practicing my listening in a more intense way right now as I start a relationship–with someone who places a lot of emphasis on communication. Fun and calling me to be really present to him and his words.

  5. Sapana V says:

    Yes, I agree with your thought. Everyone is aware that no-one is perfect and it is not necessary that someone have answers to all the life queries. What people love is that someone will listen to him/her. That’s the only thing a person can do to help the other

  6. Walker wrote a beautiful post. Made me sad to think how many times I have withheld love by not fully listening and the times I haven’t felt heard. Lots to think about.

  7. I have a confession: “I need to listen more”. I find myself tuning out a lot of times.

  8. Audrey says:

    It is amazing how much you can listen but not really be listening to what is being said. A perfect reminder to listen more than we normally do.

  9. This is a huge issue and I think it’s only getting worse. We are so distracted, we have such short attention span, and we’re more connected to our electronics than each other. I think listening to – and actually hearing – someone is the greatest gift we can give.

  10. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s very rare that people listen these days, it even more rare for them to understand. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the technology that we have or if it’s really how we are now.

    • Well, I think this listening has to be cultivated. We can start by slowing down, looking at the person we’re with and making the present moment more important than anything else. I think it’s more important now than ever.

  11. I’ve been working at teaching this to my kids lately, both in verbal lesson and by example. I disagree with the connection of devices = not listening, but I do agree that we don’t put very much value on our interaction these days. we do it even WHILE using devices – how many times have you been on the phone while folding laundry or washing dishes or checking through the mail? I do these things often, and am trying to learn that although I often feel that I have WAY too much to do and nowhere near enough time to do it all – there is merit in NOT multi-tasking, in just focusing on the item or job, or person, at hand.

    It isn’t just devices, or listening, or too much of one and too little of the other, I think. It’s focus, true focus – and we all need more of it.

    • It’s really about intention isn’t it? I’m a big one for multitasking and I know it rarely allows me to give any one thing my full attention when I’m doing that.

      Love that you’re aware of how to provide examples for your kids.

  12. Not everyone likes to listen because if they do it is a responsibility and with that the commitment of taking action. It is easier to pretend to listen. Or at least that is my experience.

    • Sometimes it’s just as simple as being present for someone. Being able to say, I hear you. It’s not always about action.
      Listening, as a part of communication, is crucial for building and maintaining strong relationships, in my opinion. And I’ve discovered that there’s something very wonderful that happens when we really listen.

  13. Kelly Reci says:

    This is something that my partner should read! Let’s all admit that women are really emotional, that sometimes we make our own drama in life, but for me, all i want is just someone to listen to my heartaches, to my unspoken messages, to all of my worries. cos if the time comes, that you need someone to listen to you, i’m here. There is a big difference of hearing and listening.

    • I agree that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening is powerful for both parties.
      I think men can be emotional and men can need to be heard but they aren’t always willing to ask for it.

  14. Stacey says:

    This is a huge pet peeve of mine. You can;t be thinking what you will say next if you are really listening.

  15. Ronnie says:

    Gosh, really… what a cultural change that has occurred worldwide. I can’t stand talking to someone while they stare at their cell phone screen – they are just not listening and giving off an impression that they have more important things to do. 🙁 This is an important reminder that listening is being lost and we must put an effort to retain it and show our love through it.

  16. Talking to someone who is in their own world drives me crazy. I wish we lived in a era where we didn’t have cell phones.

  17. Jessica says:

    I completely agree! A few times throughout the week my husband and I will just strike up a morning conversation (really about anything current or on our minds) and we won’t touch a cell phone or tv, sometimes we are still laying in bed and the kids are still sleeping. I’m pretty sure that is when our best active listening moments happen.

  18. u devices do consume a lot of our time, I’m starting to make myself and my children disconnect from our phones, computers, and tablets for reading or play. I also must admit I am guilty of holding my son (when he was a bay) while he was drinking a bottle and being on my phone. I soon stopped because he wouldn’t fall asleep because he was always so curious about what’s on mommy’s phone.

  19. Sometimes listening is the hardest thing to do. Active listening is something we all need to learn. We need to listen, understand, and empathize. You’ll never really get to know someone until you can actively listen.

  20. Rena says:

    I am so guilty of this! I constantly have a screen in front of my face or I’m taking care of momma. My grown daughter and husband have both said I’m always on my phone. This inspires me to do better.Shared and pinned!

  21. David says:

    Listening is so essential to any relationship. It’s hard to understand how so few people do it well.

    • It is hard to understand. It’s not something we’re taught but that’s not really an excuse. I think listening is vital for relationships and also very important in sexual relationships too.

  22. Kim says:

    It is very true that being heard makes you feel important and loved. I feel like everyone tends to get distracted and not listen at times.. something I too need to work on.

  23. Kiyshia says:

    Communication is key when it comes to Love, I think being heard, eve without action is important. I sometimes find that I’m thinking of a reply before the person I’m speaking to has finished the sentence. Over the years, I’ve had to learn not interrupt others when they speak, simply because I cannot stand other people interrupting me in the middle of my sentence. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Lisa Rios says:

    I always love to listen more than speaking more. But usually I think people speak more than listening to someone’s words which has so much to say & so much to understand!

  25. ohmummymia says:

    Listening is really rarity this days. To be honest sometimes I’m forgetting to focus properly when I’m talking with someone ;(

  26. A truly wonderful post and so timely, too. I always think I can multi-task…you know, listening to the TV while blogging, etc? Thank goodness I have a DVR that I can rewind several times because I didn’t “hear” something. Being present really is an art that needs constant cultivation!

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