The fundamental skill of listening

Listening is the best tool in a relationship. Really, in any exchange. Why? Well don’t call us revolutionary, but we say everyone needs to be heard. We all crave self-expression, asservation, declaration, and emphasis. We want to be known. On our terms, of course. People always speak to be heard - sometimes to be validated or contentious - but always to be heard. Self-expression, in all its forms, is a coping mechanism. And a healthy one at that. The moment you get words and feelings out, the healing begins. It’s medicinal.

Do not get in the way of this outward trajectory. Blocking it with your own judgments just keeps you from controlling the way it eventually comes out. Because it will and probably in a less productive way. You may not even know what adverse effects censoring yourself is having until it sort of explodes.

Needless to say, it’s hard to exert this skill. Even though the 2022 culture is very into speaking up and advocation, it’s not terribly prone to listening. So let’s do it, let’s be listeners for once. Let’s give people around us the space to speak, the prompt, and the opportunity to represent themselves. That’s being a medium for healing in our own little way. And as we help someone heal, we also experience the joy of… not talking. Instead of:

  • Describing something that happened to you that was similar

  • Recalling how you reacted to someone who did the same thing

  • Suggesting something they can do instead or in reaction

  • Agreeing or disagreeing with what they did or said

None of this is to say you should be all-knowing in every conversation. Quite the contrary, we listen to learn. Embodying this concept yourself, daily, will teach you and your child the value of contemplation and compassion.

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