wings and things

The gift of listening

on January 7, 2013

Years ago I wrote my PhD about the importance of listening to people with dementia who were still able to speak. In the process of turning the thesis into a book for publication, I began to realize the importance of listening in general. At the time, Ming was a little kid and Anthony wasn’t so ill, so I would listen to Ming’s babble and Anthony’s hearty stories with equal attention.

Listening is not always easy because sometimes what you are hearing may not make sense, might be boring or inane or moany, could be longwinded and require patience.

To listen, you have to be able to shut up for awhile, give your own voice a break, and focus on the person you are listening to.

Yesterday, after my altercation with Ming, he broke down and begged me to listen to him and I remembered, with a thud of remorse, that he had been asking me this for some time.

So we sat down together, cried our eyes out in separate chairs and then he began the story of his 3 days away at the Southbound concert festival.

As I listened, I saw how his face glowed in the telling of each episode. After two hours, we were laughing again and I asked for an intermission. “That’s okay, Mum, we can do Episode 3 tomorrow.”

I am beginning to think that the best gift you can give anyone is to listen to them.

35 responses to “The gift of listening

  1. Ming’s babble? I’m still babbling at 57…………lol

  2. dcwisdom says:

    Wonderful! Yes, I heartily agree! Just a listening ear…I’m so glad he didn’t allow himself to alienate you which is what very often happens. I have to laugh about yours and Ming’s relationship. Sounds like Jeremiah’s and my relationship where we can disagree and yell and get it all out and hug and forgive the next minute. He’s my mirror into my personality. Really helps me understand us. I’m still trying to understand my other four.

  3. Very few people are good listeners. It’s something many of us could work on. Thanks for this reminder!

  4. How wonderful, and I suspect you are right. Listening may be the greatest gift. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. terry1954 says:

    I think listening is the best gift we can give to anyone. I am not great at it, but I try

  6. ytaba36 says:

    Hah! I read your title as “The Gift of Glistening”, which would be another good gift to possess. πŸ™‚

  7. Reblogged this on Don Carnagey~Lanier and commented:
    The most wise among us are the best listeners…

  8. So many of us hear without listening and yes I am guilty of doing it myself……………

  9. janechese says:

    Thank you for the reminder, one where I need a nudge on every now and then. Jane

  10. lucewriter says:

    And isn’t that what goes on in the blogosphere? Listening? I think so. I can’t believe how much listening has enriched my life!!! Thank you for a wonderful post, Julie.

  11. I think being listened to is a human need. My kids constantly ask me to listen to them every time they start telling me a story. And they’re much younger than your son! I’m so glad you two took the time to sit down and talk / listen.

  12. sbcallahan says:

    i can’t tell you how many people have ended up in my office when all they really needed was a good listener. it was my pleasure to have a vocation that allowed me to gift just that to so many over the years.

  13. viveka says:

    You’re so right … we don’t listen anymore – and to take time .. give time … and create time together like you and Ming did – that is a fantastic gift to each other.

  14. Yes. So often, we are just waiting our turn to speak.

  15. True, active listening is often difficult to do, but can be such an incredible gift…to another, and as you found, to oneself. A lovely story, thanks for sharing. So happy that you had a bright spot, as you’ve been in a particularly rough patch it seems….

  16. Yes, I believe that is true. a wonderfully, insightful post Julie.

  17. mrs fringe says:

    Much harder to do than it first seems, but so important ❀

  18. aFrankAngle says:

    Well said, most people don’t listen because they are concentrating on their next statement … thus a tad of selfishness. Well done Julie!

  19. Colline says:

    Sometimes listening can be hard to do – you itch to have your say; or to move away and do something more interesting. But, as you suggest, by listening you give a great gift to those you are listening to. You allow them to use their voice and feel that their own thoughts and experiences are important.

  20. Louise G. says:

    So true, Julie.

    Thank you for this lovely reminder.

  21. You’re so right…Sometimes when we are listening to a person…before they have even finished we are forming in our mind what WE want to say next..and not fully listening to them…Diane

  22. niasunset says:

    Yes dear Julie, yes… I agree with you, how wisely you expressed. Thank you, love, nia

  23. Robyn Lee says:

    this was a beautiful post Julie…. you have reminded us of so much here. I truly believe that listening … or is said often now, “being present” for another is the best gift you could possibly give. There is something so validating about knowing someone you respect/care for/love holds his/her attention for you this way. So glad to hear you and Ming reconciled on this … and thank you for this message — will help so many today! xxoo love ~R

  24. Lynda says:

    Yes, perfect!

  25. annotating60 says:

    But, you must begin by listeni ng to your heart first of all.KB

  26. FlaHam says:

    Julie, indeed you are so right, and while I sometimes (not often) claim to be a good listener, it is posts like this that remind me that listening is a learned skill. Thank you for the gentle reminder. — Take care, Bill

  27. eof737 says:

    Absolutely… and there is magic in the silence when we shut up… TY for this one Julie!!! πŸ™‚

  28. SnapInTime says:

    This is so, so true. Thank you so much for the important reminder in your words here! πŸ™‚

  29. magzmama says:

    100% on target! It’s what I sort of realized last night while thinking about what to ultimately do with my life. I’ve been in the music business forever, and I’ve been reading Tarot for even longer. The only thing that makes/made me good at those things was the fact that I am a good listener. People get such therapy from a reading, and celebrities and regular people in the work place thrive when they’re actually “heard”. I love this post!!

  30. elizabeth says:

    I whole-heartedly agree Julie. πŸ™‚

  31. Listening – A dying art. Yet, sadly, vital to relationships.

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