Woodcut illustration from The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World
Reviews

Listening for the wisdom

One of the most powerful things in the world is listening” — Scott Neumyer

Woodcut illustration from The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World
Detail of woodcut illustration from The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World by William Makepeace Thackeray (1889), courtesy Internet Archive via Wikimedia Commons (digital image by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Talking, especially about oneself, seems easy to many people. Listening is much harder. And perhaps the hardest part is keeping patience through the long, awkward silences.

Scott Neumyer affirms this truth that he learned, like so many of us who have occasion to interview others, through long experience. In a recent conversation with Brendan O’Meara on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, Neumyer emphasizes the importance of shutting up and letting the other person talk. As he rightly points out, no one is interested in the interviewer’s opinion or perspective. They want to hear what the subject of the interview has to say. So be still and let them talk.

But listening is more than being still and letting the other person talk. Skillful listeners are actively involved in the conversation. They build trust that allows them to urge the conversation to more sensitive and more profound places that people are often reluctant to share. They hear the deeper messages of what is being said. They bring the conversation to insights that would not be possible without their sensitive ear tuned to the unique voice that speaks.

But this is a rare talent. Technology and the current obsession with social media have given us powerful tools to talk. But who is listening? The power of skillful listening seems more urgent than ever if we hope to find words worth our attention, to hear wisdom through the noise. Without patient, empathic, and active listening, how might we hope for better ways to connect not only to each other, but to ourselves?

[Daily post 037 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.