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The Art Of Listening

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Writing in Esquire magazine in 1935, Ernest Hemingway offered this advice to young writers: ‘When people talk, listen completely… Most people never listen.’ Even though Hemingway was one of my teenage heroes, the realization crept up on me, somewhere around the age of 25: I am most people. I never listen.

Perhaps never was a little strong – but certainly, my listening often occurred through a fog of distraction and self-regard. On my worst days, this could make me a shallow, solipsistic presence. Haltingly, I began to try to reach inside my own mental machinery, marshal my attention differently, listen better. I wasn’t sure what I was doing; but I had crossed paths with a few people who, as a habit, gave others their full attention – and it was powerful. It felt rare, it felt real; I wanted them around.

As a culture, we treat listening as an automatic process about which there is not a lot to say: in the same category as digestion or blinking. When the concept of listening is addressed at any length, it is in the context of professional communication; something to be honed by leaders and mentors, but a specialization that everyone else can happily ignore. This neglect is a shame. Listening well, it took me too long to discover, is a sort of magic trick: both parties soften, blossom, they are less alone.

Along the way, I discovered that Carl Rogers, one of the 20th century’s most eminent psychologists, had put a name to this underrated skill: ‘active listening’. And though Rogers’s work was focused initially on the therapeutic setting, he drew no distinction between this and everyday life: ‘Whatever I have learned,’ he wrote, ‘is applicable to all of my human relationships.’ What Rogers learned was that listening well – which necessarily involves conversing well and questioning well – is one of the most accessible and most powerful forms of connection we have.

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Husband and Wife (detail, 1945) by Milton Avery. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy R Neuberger. Photo by Allen Phillips/ Wadsworth Atheneum

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Click the link below for the article:

https://aeon.co/essays/the-psychologist-carl-rogers-and-the-art-of-active-listening?utm_source=pocket_discover

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Msdedeng
    Jun 26, 2022 @ 21:03:25

    Ernest Hemingway was definitely right. I am still working on that listening skill, but the more I do, the more I actually learn something new every time. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    Reply

    • Mohenjo
      Jun 27, 2022 @ 22:11:07

      And, people appreciate a good listener! thanks for the comment.

      Like

      Reply

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