Listening is an act of love

Is there anything better than knowing — not just believing, but knowing in your bones — that someone is truly listening to you, that they’re “getting it”? The person values your ideas and dreams enough to stop what they’re doing and hear you out.

I’ve worked with thousands of people facing all kinds of challenges, and I have to say that no act of love is more powerful than listening.

I think it’s because listening does more than help us gather information. It shows we have an honest interest in what matters to someone else.

A clear message

Taking the time to listen sends a clear message: “I’m devoting my energy and attention to you because I want to know what you think and how you’re feeling.”

Then the real magic begins: they relax and open up. And when it’s our turn to talk, they listen to us. When we hear people, they’re ready and willing to hear us too. There’s a connection between us because, just by listening, we built a bridge to each other and willingly walked across it.

Listening is an act of love that opens hearts, minds, and even doors of opportunity, but we can’t do it in a hurry. It takes time. Imagine how good it would feel to have someone say to you: “This is too important to rush. Can we talk this afternoon, like around 3? I can finish what I’m doing and totally focus on what you’re saying.”

Listen. Just listen.

Have you ever tried to talk to someone who keeps looking at their phone while you talk? How about someone who forgets conversations you just had with them? Or someone whose eyes dart around the room while you’re talking to them? Or a friend who makes you feel rushed all the time, like no matter how fast you talk, it’s not fast enough?

I have!

And I remember how unimportant these people made me feel when I tried to talk to them. It’s not just that they weren’t listening. It’s that anything and everything else was more interesting than what I was saying!

So, beautiful someone, let’s make some promises to improve the listening that goes on in our lives, families, communities, and world:

  1. When someone is talking, we’ll put everything on hold and think, “Right now, I’m listening, and that’s all I’m doing.”
  2. We will listen, really: we won’t lay in wait for an opening so we can jump in and start talking.
  3. We will listen for what the person needs to say, not what we want to hear.
  4. We will encourage the person speaking by saying things like: “I hear what you’re saying,” “I understand what you mean,” “What happened next?” and “Tell me more about…”

In these ways, we’ll show that listening is an act of love and validation that everyone—everyone—desperately needs.