Listening

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen …

Most societies do not regard silence as a valued trait of a friend. Perhaps it is because we correlate friendship with sharing–thoughts, ideas, feelings, fears, joys, sorrows. Generally, we share our feelings, reactions, and pains through our speech–by talking with others. Therefore, for many of us, silence can sometimes seem awkward. But as Rachel points out, a loving silence often has far more healing power than any words we could speak.

There are also those times when we are partially listening to someone, and we would like to interject because we feel inclined to give our advice. We may tell ourselves that we have good intentions in doing so, yet we have to be aware that most advice naturally carries with it a manipulative overtone–an attempt to exert some control over another person’s actions in the hope that that person will have a positive experience or will be saved from potential pain and difficulties as a result of our advice.

And then there are those times when perhaps the best thing we can do is to let our friend make their own choices and face the consequences. Because sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before we begin to pick ourselves back up.

Being there for others does not necessarily mean fixing their problems for them. Sometimes simply being there is the best thing we can do. And when we do help others, there are often areas that require cautious judgment and careful discernment. Be available to others who need a friend. Show them caring concern and love by giving them your full attention. Offer helpful advice… and whenever you are unsure of what to say or do… try simply listening, with a loving silence.

Practice listening to others today and letting them finish their thoughts by waiting for at least 2 seconds before replying back.

Questions to consider:

When is it best to simply listen with loving silence? Is it easy to do so?

Why is silence often undervalued? How does affect us individually?

Think of some potential opportunities you have had to listen to others this past week. How could you take advantage of such opportunities in the future?

For further thought:

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” ~ Gloria Naylor

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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