The lost art of listening
The first time I listen to a song or watch a movie or read a book, I like quiet. I want to be able to listen to the story. To be all there. To catch all the nuances, all the plot twists, all the character quirks of the story. I feel like the story deserves my full attention.
“I am listening to you. And I’m hearing you.”
“You’re doing both of those things? Listening and hearing?”
Originally stolen from the movie Moms’ Night Out, this has become a catchphrase in my house. It makes sense when you really think about it (or listen to it). I can hear someone just fine—but that doesn’t mean I’m listening. That doesn’t mean my brain is actively engaged. That doesn’t mean I’m paying attention for every curve the story road presents.
And I’m finding that listening is a lost art.
I’m not talking about closing a poorly written book, or turning off a movie that really should have never made it to DVD. Sometimes those things truly are a waste of time.
I’m talking about people. And people are never a waste of time.
Every person is a story. Every person has so many nuances, plot twists, and character quirks just waiting for you to grab hold of so they can cheer “YES!” For you to grab hold of so they know someone is rooting for them to finish strong.
And so many of those stories go unread. Unheard. Un-listened. Why do we tune out so easily? Why do we change the channel so fast? Why don’t we give stories—or people the attention they deserve?
It’s not worth it.
If we throw out all the extra scrap paper and silence the noise, that is the truth. When we tune out and stop listening, it’s because we don’t believe it’s worth it.
And you know what, you don’t know that. Neither do I. There’s always something to learn. Another adventure to embark on. Every story—no matter how poorly told, no matter how dull, no matter how long-winded, no matter how just plain obnoxious—has something for you to learn.
And maybe it’s not all about us. Maybe it’s not about the story we think we’re so busy writing. Maybe this is how we will write our story—by listening to someone else’s.
And every story—no matter how it’s told—has an Author. Someone who poured His all into this story. If He poured His all into this story, how much more should we?
You are a story. I am a story. Every person you see this next month is a story.
Do you hear that?
Are we listening?
And speaking of stories . . .
10/27/2019 10:15:10 am
Loved the post!! Great reminders. :)
1/22/2020 12:14:45 am
Yes! In a world of technology-assisted multitasking, it takes real focus and purpose to listen. Not just hearing people, but listening with intent to understand, comprehend, and rightly discern. Too often I only listen with intent to reply, having an entire monologue in my head ready to unleash on the other person the moment they stop talking (as a writer this is even easier as and more tempting to do). But that I isn't real listening, and shows I care more about my own thoughts and words than I do about theirs. It takes caring, patience, and attention to truly listen to others. Well said, Rachel!
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Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!