Listening is an art few have mastered

Growing up I was always a little chattier than most, which was duly noted on my grammar school report cards. Even today I just talk, talk, talk – an asset I suppose when you have a blog to support.

But as I’ve recently discovered, not everyone is interested in being an active listener – especially when the conversation pushes the limits of one’s comfort zone.

Some are simply unwilling to discuss matters that are challenging or confrontational to say the least. And as often is the case during such conversations, the active listener suddenly tunes out.

Ask yourself, what type of listener are you?

Are you the kind of person who only likes to hear themselves talk – paying little attention to what others have to say?

Does your attention span begin to wander off when the feeling is less than positive and the subject less than interesting?

Do you even know what it means to truly be a “good” listener?

In any relationship – platonic or intimate – listening is key in letting someone know just how much you care. Listening, and in turn providing constructive feedback and empathic support, is not easy. But it does let others know they’re not alone in their struggles – not alone in life.

And isn’t that our ultimate responsibility?

To set aside what’s comfortable to us to be there for others – during good times and bad, without any expectations or judgments. To truly hear what people are saying – being a faithful confidant who brings warmth and comfort on the coldest of days. To return a smile to ones face and laughter in their heart – letting them know that everything will be okay.

Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”