In a busy restaurant, waiting for a friend, I people-watched; observing several tables where the diners were actively using cell phones. Not being together, just sitting together. As meals were delivered by the wait staff, most laid their phones down on the table next to their plates, and commenced dining.
Some conversation was exchanged (not many talked with a mouth full of food), but when a phone buzzed or flashed, many owners of said phones immediately focused his or her full attention to the incoming message. I was mesmerized by this ritual of ignoring; by the blatant disinterest with their present company.
Active, compassionate listening is challenge enough for 21st century consciousness; which is bombarded every few seconds with information.
We all have had the experience of being in a moment of sharing our day, our joy, our woe, our selves, our soul with a fellow earth-traveler, only to have them respond absently, distractedly, interjecting their opinion and advice, or, literally answering their ‘call-waiting’. Sadly, we too, have likely been guilty of a similar response.
To actively listen, to listen with compassion requires us to be fully present. Ben Connelly writes in “Compassionate Listening” (Experience Life, October 2016) about the Five Ways to Be a Better Listener: “Listen with your whole body. Hear with your whole mind. Know your own heart. Open your whole heart. And Let it be.”
There truly is an art of conversation, and the biggest part of being successful at this art…is listening.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen
I invite you this week to listen.