“Real listening is a kind of prayer, for as we listen, we penetrate through the human ego and hear the Spirit of God, which dwells in the heart of everyone. Real listening is a religious experience. Often, when I have listened deeply to another, I have the same sense of awe as when I have entered into a holy place and communed with the heart of being itself.”
– Morton T. Kelsey, Through Defeat To Victory
TEN STEPS TO LISTENING, BY MORTON KELSEY
- CEASE TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND BE SILENT.
- BE SILENT WITH THE OTHER PERSON IN AN ACTIVE WAY: open, active, receptive, alive, without letting your mind wander or daydream. Keep eye contact, let your body language tell the person you care.
- LISTENING INVOLVES PATIENCE. It may take a period of time before the person trusts you enough to tell you what he/she really wants to let you know.
- AFTER YOU HAVE LISTENED CAREFULLY AND REFLECTIVELY, YOU NEED TO REFLECT BACK WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD, and ask for more details. This is called feedback on what you have heard.
- LISTENING IS A GIFT WHICH ONLY A FEW PEOPLE ARE BORN WITH, BUT IT CAN BE LEARNED. Having learned how to listen, don’t ever let it be rote.
- LISTENING OFTEN INVOLVES SHARING OURSELVES. People who come to us need to know that we are wounded too. This sharing is mostly to put the other person at ease, and is never more than the person can bear to hear. The troubled person coming to be listened to should not become my therapist! We listeners are the wounded healer.
- WE USUALLY MUST LISTEN TO THE MORE SUPERFICIAL LEVELS OF COMPLAINT BEFORE WE ARE LET INTO THE DEEPER AND MORE VULNERABLE PLACES. If we pass the first test of acceptance, then a dam breaks and the whole human pours forth. It is hard to hear this kind of pain, but if we do not listen to this dark side of others, we seldom see these people in depth. They remain for us like a child’s painting—with no shadow or perspective or depth.
- BEYOND THE DARKNESS/SHADOW LIES A BEAUTY WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED. In this deepest level of the human psyche we discover that within another human being we have communion with God.
- LISTENING REQUIRES A PRIVATE AND QUIET PLACE. Usually an hour at a time is enough for most people.
- LISTENING USUALLY MEANS HOLDING MY OWN CONCLUSIONS IN ABEYANCE—until the other comes to his/her conclusions. Whenever I argue or interrupt, I probably have a sensitive spot in my own being that has been struck, and my attitude stops fruitful communication. I give unsolicited advice only when I see pitfalls the other hasn’t which might destroy the other person.
- OUR ONLY TASK IN LISTENING IS TO ENABLE THE OTHER: to grow, to take responsibility for his/her own life, to form his/her value system, and to come to own full potential by his/her own choice.