Dixie Darr

A Good Listener

In Learning on May 23, 2017 at 10:23 am

I love listening to podcasts and audio books so much that I think I might be an auditory learner, someone who learns best by hearing and speaking. We all know I love to talk, to hear as it were, the sound of my own voice. Maya Angelou said “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” I’m pretty sure my chattiness wasn’t what she had in mind.

One of the things I like best about listening to podcasts and audio books is that I can do something else while I listen, especially mindless tasks like housework, walking, driving (Oops. How’d that get in here?) I can’t, however, read and listen to podcasts or books at the same time, and believe me I’ve tried. Because in reading I hear my voice saying the words inside my head, I think reading and listening to words are the same activity. I can and do read while listening to music or watching TV as background noise, the only thing TV is really good for these days.

Listening to people in real life is not one of my top talents, so it was with some trepidation that I attended a recent night of community discussion. We sat at tables of 6-7 people and answered questions one at a time without replying to one another. Our task was simply to listen.

It was wonderful and powerful hearing everybody’s story, but it was VERY hard not to respond – with empathy, information, advice. Whatever. Luckily we had a moderator to keep everyone on track.

Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.” I need to learn to listen better, to clear away distractions, focus on the speaker, listen generously. If you catch me being quiet sometime, I might be practicing. Talk to me.

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