The art of hearing

Imagine you’ve just had an unexpected argument with your partner. You’re upset and want to meet with your best friend to talk the situation out and get some advice. While you’re explaining the details, your friend glances at her phone and starts responding to a text message saying she needs to sort out the conversation.

You would probably feel angry and hurt, not to mention uncomfortable sharing more. With just one seemingly small distraction, the rhythm of the conversation gets thrown off.

Listening is so much more than just being quiet while another person speaks.

Think of someone in your life who actively listens to you. When you speak to them, you know you’re free to say what you think and feel without the fear of being judged. What is it that they do differently than your friends or family members who multitask during your conversations?

Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master and peace activist, wrote, “Do your best to practice compassionate listening. Do not listen for the sole purpose of judging, criticizing or analyzing. Listen only to help the other person express himself and find some relief from suffering.”

Listening with compassion signals to others that you care and are willing to take time to understand what’s happening in their world.


– Four levels of listening – improve your listening skills –