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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.

Not convinced?

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?

  1. Look at the person, and stop doing other things.
  2. Listen to the feelings behind the content.
  3. Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.
  4. 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.

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B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care;, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun.

A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network and InspireMeToday. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir.

She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice. Writer Advice recently celebrated its 16th year and runs contests for aspiring and published writers as well as sharing useful tips from experienced writers.

For more information, please visit

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Excellent article! I will pay more attention to my listening now. We are so involved with our own gadgets in our lives, we are forgetting the importance of listening.
    Thanks for reminding us.
    Looking forward to more inspiration…Anu

    1. Thanks so much, Anu. I hadn’t thought about gadgets, but they often offer one-way communication. That’s part of why I love responses so much: they make us listen with our eyes. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for this beautiful message. I listened to you and also the Tapping Summit today. I was uplifted and they opened my heart and mind to embrace change and to receive all the goodness in life !

      1. Hi May,

        I’m not familiar with the Tapping Summit, though you’re touching off some vague old memory. Ahhh. It was a technique in an adult literacy program where I worked.

        Tell us about the Tapping Summit. What is it? Where is it? Thanks.

  2. Dear Lynn
    The most important point in a conversation L I S T E N. The art of istening ….the power of listening and the gift of listening. very aptly said and we have understood. Thanks for the inside of listening.Listen with the Eyes with nose with the mouth with your hands ..listen with your mind & soul…. Well all listen from the ears sound noise msic talk good bad ugly… but Listening with the other senses certainly gives the speaker a greater and better way of expressions. perfect … the best of speaking is to LISTEN

  3. Very Enlightening. I start our Church Services every Sunday and I know it gets very frustrating when it seems like no one is listening. And the days when you know they are listening it is so much easier to front the service. Thanks.

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