Listening and Respect

When was the last time you truly listened to someone? I mean, really listened–you put down whatever you were doing, stopped your internal dialogue in your head, and gave a person your full attention. Hopefully you’ve done that today. If not, I hope you do. We hear a lot of people each day, but I’m not sure if we do enough listening. So that’s why we have today’s quote:

When you listen to someone, it's the most profound act of human respect. William Ury

It might sound a bit cheesy, but I do believe that listening to someone is an act of respect. Listening can be a profound experience for both the person talking–because they are truly being heard–and for the listener–because you have the opportunity to truly connect with another person. And that’s what we’re here for, right? Connection. That’s what life and art and creating and listening are about.

This was brought home to me last week when I was in a meeting that was long (I’m not a fan of meetings in the first place), didn’t have a set agenda (always a bad sign), and had people talking over each other and not truly listening (disheartening, but unfortunately not surprising in this context). At one point in the meeting, I tried unsuccessfully for five minutes to try to interject into the conversation but people kept talking over each other and when finally the group took a collective breath and I was going to say something I was caught off by the facilitator to let someone else who had been talking previously.

This story isn’t being told to elicit sympathy, and while it also shows the need to facilitate meetings better and to be courteous, it is being told because it is  about listening and respect. Because listening is a whole body activity. You have to pay full attention to whomever is talking and if you are in a group, you have to pay attention to who is waiting to talk, to share, and to add to the conversation. You need to help create space for others to share. It is hard work, but it is so important in the cultivation of respect. And respect will lead to good things, good connections, and good outcomes–no matter what you’re talking about or working on.

So today, as you converse with others, listen to them and show them respect. You never know what you may learn when you listen deeply and how it may impact your life and your art. I hope you are listened to and listen today and take the opportunity to connect. Who knows, it may even give you inspiration to make some good art. 🙂