In this week’s reading Schwable and his mother are at a chemo treatment just before Thanksgiving. As they talk about the book Marjorie Morningstar he talks about his mother’s ability to listen and to be fully present in a conversation. Schwable writes, “She would listen and then ask questions – and not just the yes or no or numerical questions people ask to feign interest…She used her questions to get people to talk more about how they felt, what they’d learn, or who’d they met, or what they thought would happen next” (51).
I liked this section of the book because I tend to view myself as a terrible listener. I have to work hard to focus and not think about my phone, or my chores, or…anything else than what the person who is talking to me is trying to convey. Stephen Covey’s book and the chapter on empathetic listening has helped me to at least think of listening as an important skill that I need to work on. A recent workshop I attended reinforced that I have the skills to be a good listener; I simply have to apply them.
The TED Radio Hour also discuss the power of listening in the podcast, “How Can Listening Transformed an Entire Community” Rev. Jeffrey Brown discusses how really listening to the people of his community, as opposed to trying to fix a problem without listening transformed his city. Brown says, “What we found out was the exact opposite (of what we expected) and that most of the people on the street was just trying to make it on the street…. What came out of that was the city wide program that led to a 79% drop in homicides over the next decade.” (4:00)
(When I listened) “I discover that I didn’t have all the answers in the dialogue that occurred we find that there is a magnetism that comes together that is greater than the sum of the parts.” (8:00).
It is so moving to listen to this and think about the power of listening. It seems like something so easy to do; just listen to people what their needs are, what their concerns are, what their hopes and dreams are…the idea that simply listening can help people address all of these.
How do you view yourself and a listener? Do you ever think about the power of listening? Do you believe that simply listening to people can lead to great change like that discussed by Brown? Do you know someone who is a great listener? How does the world respond to them?