Listening

May 01, 2014
Tagged with: Listening

“I like how you listen to me. You’re really listening and not doing something else at the same time.” My eight year old daughter said that to me. She has also said, “Mom? Mom! MOMMMM! You’re not listening!” Out of the mouths of babes …

The power of listening can be stunning. Recently, I shared a heartrending experience with some colleagues.   The way they sat still and followed my story and offered feedback at the end of it made me cry. I was overcome by how intently they listened and how heard I felt.

Equally stunning is the power of not being heard. I confess that I have said “mmm hmmm” at the right places while pretending to listen to my daughters and others. What a loss for me. What would happen if we all slowed down just a bit and listened?

Not the kind of listening when we are waiting for our turn to talk, or making mental grocery lists while someone else is speaking, but real deep down listening. Speaking is only part of communication.   Some estimates say that speaking makes up only 10% of communication, while the other 90% is comprised of body language and facial expression. So listening does not just involve our ears. It’s our eyes that watch body language and pick up on the sparkle of someone’s eyes (or their lack of sparkle), their hands, their face. Our brain takes in the information they are sharing and makes judgments, evaluations, and categorizes the encounter. All of which is natural. But one more vital organ is needed for real listening: our hearts.

What is this person really telling us? Does their body language expose fear even though their words sound brave? Are they asking for acceptance or approval? Do they want to make a connection? Or, are they asking for distance?

Listening asks our whole selves to be present. When we truly listen, people feel heard. Really, it isn’t that hard. But, it does require doing one thing and one thing only.

Each of us holds a unique perspective on life. If we take the time to listen to each other, I wonder how much more able we will all seem.   When we listen to the person who cannot speak with words what new body language will be revealed to us? When we listen to the person who does not see with their eyes, what new way of experiencing the world will be revealed? When we listen to the person who is deaf and does not speak, what will we learn?

If we listen with our hearts, what life expanding possibilities will present themselves?

Author: Elizabeth Vander Kamp



  • bobl07

    As always Elizabeth you write a post that can benefit everyone.

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Thank you, Bob, I hope so.

  • Momof3

    I agree Bob107! Thank you Elizabeth.

  • Phil

    Thank you for your insightful post, Elizabeth! Once again, I love the picture!

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Thank you, Lori!

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Thank you, dear Phil, wonderful listener!