By B. Lynn Goodwin.
“There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” — Edith Wharton
Do you write or blog? Do you get tired of receiving little feedback, no feedback, or negative feedback? Do you need something to pull you back up?
You’re in need of inspiration. Aren’t we all sometimes?
Whenever I offer a journaling or writing workshop, I always explain that everyone in the room is a writer and everyone has a unique voice and stories worth telling.
Recently, I gave a journaling workshop at the Sherwood Forest Free Will Baptist Church in El Sobrante, California. As usual, I told our group that part of our gift to each other would be listening to those who read and honoring their writing with our listening and supportive comments.
I quoted Ralph Nichols, who says, “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Listening may feel passive, but it’s one of the most important gifts we can give to writers, speakers, teachers, lecturers, parents, children, pastors, authors, and anyone else with a message to share. Listening encourages expression. Listening works.
Listen to what these well-known experts have said.
It takes two to speak the truth — one to speak and another to hear.
– Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, abolitionist, and transcendentalist.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
–Winston Churchill, British conservative politician and statesman
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force…When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life…When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other…and it is this little creative fountain inside us that begins to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected laughter and wisdom. …Well, it is when people really listen to us, with quiet fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way.
–Barbara Ueland, author of If You Want to Write
The first duty of love is to listen.
–Paul Tillich, German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher
Listening matters. It validates us.
How do you show you’re actively listening?
- Look at the person, and stop doing other things.
- Listen to the feelings behind the content.
- Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.
- Check to make sure you understand by restating ideas or asking for clarification.
Who have you listened to today?
- The grocery clerk
- The bank teller
- Your toddler
- Your teenager
- Your spouse
- Your friendly neighbor
- Your nosy neighbor
- Your lonely neighbor
- The stranger in the waiting room
- The woman mumbles, “Spare change?”
Take the time to listen actively before responding. Whoever receives that gift will appreciate it. The astute ones will reciprocate.