"Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery. "
Dr. Joyce Brothers
Everyone thinks they listen. We rarely do. We hear. We pose while our mind wanders. We make a decision three words into a sentence where that person is going and plan our reply. Listening is an act of commitment; an act of faith.
To get get a feel for listening try overt action in a low pressure, temporary relationship. For example. The next time you go shopping in a store that employs service people and the employee comes to ask you if they can be of assistance turn to face them, look them in the eye as they speak. Wait for them to finish and let the sound of their words resonate in the air. Be honest with them. Let them do what they are paid to do. Ask them a question about why they chose a particular item over another. Keep eye contact with them. Do not rush and do not interrupt. If they do not have what you need or like ; thank them for their time and leave. You have risked nothing and you will learn much about your ability to be patient and accept the thoughts of others if for no other reason than the idea that those thoughts exist.Eventually this will seep into the relationships that matter to you.
Rowena talked for years against the public school system and for home schooling but I did not really listen. I heard only enough to make a decision about why this was important too her. I was wrong. Wrong to discount huge blocks of her arguments. Wrong about what was important to her. She had made clear, thoughtful, well researched, conclusions and I had been unwilling to step outside my preconceptions. The act of listening and accepting her thoughts, her good will, and her wisdom has rewarded me with a peaceful home filled with beauty and potential. Ella loves to learn and Rowena is a Teacher in the most wonderful ways. My life is better. Better because of simple acts of Commitment and Faith.