Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Can you hear me now??

So...I came across this website the other day www.welisten2u.com.

It is a team of professional listeners. That's right.  For $1.95 per minute, a person on the phone will listen to you. They will do nothing but listen while you speak, and they will send you a bill. Professional listeners -- and people are willing to pay.

When did it become necessary to pay someone to listen? Are we really too busy to listen to each other?   Are we so preoccupied with "living" that the people we see every day--our children, parents, families, spouses, friends and neighbors -- are looking online for somebody to notice them? Unfortunately...


The desire to be heard is inescapable. It is part of the human experience. Every person has a story and wants to tell it. Wanting to be heard and understood is among the most basic of needs. It is essential. It is primal.  No one lives alone. Our basic need to connect and form relationships is inherent within us.

People need to be heard.  We'll even compete with others for that need to be satisfied.  We'll ask questions when we already have answers.  We find ourselves asking for advice or counsel, when we really would rather someone not offer any counsel and merely listen without judgment and acknowledge our feelings. When someone listens, we feel valued. We walk away lighter in our step, reminded that we matter. The gift of attentive silence is so beautiful; it is often mistaken for love. It is said you cannot hate a person whose story you know. You cannot know a person’s story without listening.

When my seven year old daughter Eden is upset, I naturally try to console her. I try to comfort her by offering words of encouragement. But even encouragement doesn't take the place of listening:    “Will you just be quiet and let me talk?” she exclaims!  At the tender age of seven, my daughter already exhibits the innate desire to be understood. We love our children, but do we hear them? Do we make the time to listen to what they tell us? Are we listening to the little things? For when we don’t make time to listen, our children believe what they have to say is unimportant.   And it's not just children that have that need.  We never tire of knowing we are valued by someone. We never really outgrow that need. It is the one thing we cannot give ourselves. It can only be gifted by another.

Listening is an expression of love. It requires sacrifice.  And for some of us, lots of practice.  Listening is not merely waiting for a turn to speak.   When we truly listen to others, we give up what we want to say so they can express themselves. When we give our full attention to a person we are giving a gift we can never get back, our time.

Carson McCuller's novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” tells the story of John Singer, who is deaf and mute.  John becomes the best friend, and loyal confidant, of the people who come in contact with him.   Each character in the book becomes dependent on John. They are drawn to him. While each character has their own set of unique circumstances and problems, they all share one thing: a desire for his company. What draws people to John is his silence -- they believe that he listens to them.  The idea here is so simple. We don’t need to agree with what people tell us. Our wisdom is not always welcome. Nobody needs us to fix their world, or offer rehearsed words of encouragement. What people need is somebody to be present for them. They need somebody willing to listen without talking.

Listening benefits everybody. Larry King said “We don’t learn anything when we are talking.” He is right. We don’t grow by talking. We don’t learn anything new about ourselves or the world. We forfeit the experiences of others. We rob ourselves of the chance to learn from someone else. We lose the opportunity to uplift another person.

Make time to listen to people’s stories. Be there for people and actually give them your attention. Set aside your ego, and let people talk about what is important to them. Be silent. You will find it gets easier. You will have relationships you never thought possible. We only get one chance at this thing we call life. Make it count. Every single day.

I dare you to listen and not have it change your life.

1 comment:

  1. Love it Tisha! I only charge my friends and family .50 per minute!


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