I didn’t choose today’s Oil painting for its season. We’ve had enough winter! Agreed? This couple caught my eye in relation to the ‘thought’ for the week. Our need to actively listen is no respecter of seasons. Only love could motivate a young couple to choose the privacy of a fence gate at twilight in winter to listen…to each other. Reminds me of mid-winter visits Marj made from Michigan to Chicago while I was in college. Our ‘fence gate’ for privacy was walking the beach with strong mid winter winds off Lake Michigan. It wasn’t crowded! We actively listened; we shared and still do more than 60 years later!
Sometimes it’s pointed out we have two ears and one mouth and that the math suggests listening twice as much as talking. Admittedly, and without criticism, that’s easier said than done for some of us.
Active listening is a pattern of listening that keeps you engaged with your conversation partner in a positive way. It is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and withholding judgment and advice.
Active listening adds new brushstrokes to the ever-evolving canvas of our paradigm. When we stop to consider our past, and the paradigms it helped us form, we realize how much active listening has been at work in our studio.
Below are some features of active listening based on research: Active listening is…
- neutral and nonjudgmental
- patient (periods of silence are not “filled”) give time to process
- verbal and nonverbal feedback to show signs of listening (e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring)
- asking questions that will lead to understanding
- reflecting back what is said in other words
- asking for clarification
Active listening serves the purpose of earning the trust of others and helping us to understand the thoughts and feelings being communicated. Active listening comprises both a desire to comprehend as well as to offer support and empathy to the speaker.
I was impressed with this quote from an article in the May 2019 issue of ‘Fortune Magazine’ titled Bill + Melinda Gates.
“If Bill’s superpower is speaking truth to the mighty, Melinda’s may well be hearing the truth of the unmighty—and then internalizing and sharing that secret often brutally repressed wisdom. For a generally soft-toned speaker, her voice has the command of a church bell. But those who know her say her truly uncanny talent is simply the ability to listen.” [Emphasis added]
Active listening benefits every relationship. In this example, it’s the second most wealthy couple in the world. But, active listening also enhances the relationship of a couple on top of a wintery farm gate at twilight and a couple weathering the icy Lake Michigan winds of January! Are we listening?
Prov. 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance…