Skip to main content

“Listening, yes that’s easy – but real Listening is an art”

“If it hadn’t been for you, I’d have been 6ft under by now”

“It was just like a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders”

“When I came in I felt a bit lost but now I feel better”

“At the time I wasn’t sure how helpful being listened to would be but the opportunity to talk about my loss and say whatever I was feeling was incredibly helpful. The whole experience was lifesaving”

Powerful quotes which beg the question what kind of support and healing help these adults received. All of these, and many more I could have quoted, simply benefited from the power of listening: somebody else giving them time and space to talk freely.

Listening is something we do every day without a second thought. In fact, many of us see it as a poor relation, sighing ‘all I could do was listen’ when someone needs our help. As one trainee said on a recent course “I began to realise that there is Listening; and there is LISTENING. It’s totally changed the way I approach interactions with others.”

Most of us have heard of Solomon, written about in many ancient writings. Say his name and many people will immediately think of wisdom. I find it fascinating that one translation of Solomon’s wisdom, found in the Hebrew Bible, is “an understanding mind and a hearing heart.” The wisdom of using our mind, our heart and our focus, as well as our ears, to truly listen to others, is a healing gift that we can give them.  

And it’s not just the stark difference between listening and not listening: listening can be carried out at a shallow, superficial level or at a deep level of connection that causes a person to feel safe; it can empower and enable a person to talk freely, or can create stumbling blocks and barriers.

I’ll finish with this story of healing that makes me weep and rejoice at the same time: a young girl unable to process her grief, shutting down and pulling out her eyelashes and eyebrows to try and help her cope. But after regular opportunities to talk freely to one of our Listeners slowly stopping doing this of her own accord as she began to talk and process her pain with someone who truly knew how to listen. As another trainee recently said “Listening, yes that’s easy – but real Listening is an art.”

Leave a Reply