I've noticed how little actual listening goes on these days. Have you?
Have you ever shared a story only to have the listener dive in with his own story the second you take a breath? You don't feel heard, right? Or perhaps the listener gave advice when all you wanted was for her to hear you. Worse yet, the listener told about a similar situation with an absolutely devastating outcome, thus striking fear into your heart. Not helpful!
I wonder whether we all need courses in listening. I am always so heartened when a friend listens deeply as I share a story—and when he asks questions that show he's really heard what I said and is interested. I feel so loved, respected and heard. On the contrary, when I share my story and the other person launches into a lengthy account of her own, I feel disregarded and diminished.
Perhaps true listening is a lost art. As I said in my last ezine (if you don't receive these, sign up for them in the space on the right where it says "Subscribe to our mailing list"), it's important to remember two things:
1) Remember that the words "listen" and "silent" contain the same letters. They are related in other ways, too!
2) We have two ears and one mouth—a good ratio for better listening.