Being a good listener is one of the most important life skills anyone can have yet few of us have been taught how to do it. We come to social life ready to speak rather than listen – hungry to meet others but reluctant to hear them .
Friendship degenerates into a socialized egoism
Things a good listener is doing that makes it nice to spend time in their company:
1 – they egg us on. Its hard to know our own minds – often we dont close in on whats really bothering or exciting us. We benefit from encouragement to elaborate. We need someone who instead of launching forward on their own to say: go on…
Theyre curious where our concerns and excitements come from
ie: why did that particularly bother you and why was that such a big thing for you?
They keep our histories in mind. Refer back to something we said before. Building up a deeper base of engagement.
2 – they urge clarification. Its easy to say vague things – this is nice, annoying, etc. But why do we feel certain ways? Friend who listens has a productive, friendly suspicion of some of our own first statement and is after deeper attitudes
Focus on what issues are really about. They bring an ambition to clarify. Conversation is not swapping of anecdotes, theyre reconnecting the chat with deeper meanings. Help to understand others ideas and values in a better way.
3 – they dont moralize. Aware we are all insane. Know own mind well enough not to be surprised or frightened about this. Skilled at making little positive sounds that signal sympathy wo intruding on what were trying to say.
Give the impression they accept our follies and reassure they wont shred our dignity.
We worry we cant be honest in a competitive world about how distressed we are but a good listener signals early and clearly that they dont see us in these terms. Vulnerability is something they warm to rather than are appalled by.
4 – they separate disagreement from criticism. Tendency to feel that being disagreed with is an expression of hostility – sometimes right but a good listener makes it clear they can like you and at same time think youre wrong. Their liking for you isnt dependent on constant agreement. Aware a person can need some untangling
When in company of those who listen well, we experience a powerful pleasure. We dont realize what the person is doing that is so nice.
By paying attention to the pleasure, we can learn to magnify it and offer to others who will notice, hear and repay the favor in turn.
Listening deserves discovery as one of the keys to a good society