A Good Listener

When was the last time you listened to someone – truly listened to them – without judging, personalizing or trying to shape the other person’s thoughts to align more closely with yours?

I had a fascinating conversation with a Muslim gentleman while waiting for my car to be serviced yesterday morning. He was telling me about his experience with Ramadan this year, which apparently was much more fulfilling for him than it had been in previous years as a result of his faithful observation of the month of fasting and his prudent (and not gluttonous) breaking the fast each evening.

According to the Quran, “[T]he month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran.” As I understand it, Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar and is essentially a month of fasting, spiritual reflection, heightened devotion and worship. Charity is also central to Islam, and the observances kept during this sacred month also help remind Muslims of the plight and needs of those less fortunate than themselves.

At any rate, this gentleman’s enthusiasm was infectious, but it occurred to me how many prejudices could have blocked the sublime and pure transference of feeling we were sharing in that moment. Had either of us let race, color or creed divide rather than connect, that moment would most surely have been lost.

It occurred to me at that moment that more important than any division is our common humanity. The body of humanity has suffered many bumps and bruises in its development through the ages and the conflicts and wars between the world’s races, religions, nations and social classes have left scars that are both painful and hard to conceal.

That said, they do not run as deep as they may seem to looking at them from above. It is not that hard to reach out to another human being, to lend him an ear and to respectfully, forgivingly and lovingly be a good listener.

4 thoughts on “A Good Listener

  1. Ricardo B.

    I would agree that our differences in race, color and creed don’t really run that deep. Growing up as a kid when I was around 8 or 9, I remember playing with my new japanese neighbors and really liking them. My brother and I were invited over for their birthdays and we’d sit without shoes on a cushion on the floor at low tables, and I remember the first time we came over, in the midst of the novelty of it, taking it all in, they made us feel right at home. It was my friend’s birthday, but I felt that alot of the attention was strangely on all the guests. I guess you can say a good listener makes you feel right at home, where the only thing that truly matters is the respect and attention you pay the person. That person is your guest, and that word runs deep if you truly think about it. It’s one of those life lessons that come freely and are so so valuable if you are fortunate enough to be open to receive them. Luckily, my parents had already broken with tradition, having emigrated from South America, and their parents had forged a new life in a new country from Europe as well. I think all that helped, and I certainly reveled in the freedom all that provided me!

    We have the best chance ever to connect and celebrate all of life’s rich traditions today and truly experience what it means to be a citizen of the world. What I find in the center of it all are universal qualities that come from some other place, and that other place needs to find home here, on this earth, right now.


  2. Coco

    Great point and post! Perhaps starting with those closest to us , a spouse, child or coworker would prove most enlightening. One of the first exercises in relationship counseling is to practice this art. It’s probably the nicest thing we can give to each other.


    1. Steve V

      I agree. It is good to so acknowledge what is true in your words and in Gregg’s. In doing so I find it locks something in for such actions to be taken during the day. We are really gifted to have this setting for productive living.


  3. Katherine

    I find that true listening is quite a rarity these days. Most people just talk, talk, talk and never leave space for listening or for others to speak. When you do listen or are ‘listened to,’ a whole new world opens up – you see, hear, feel, imagine and think of things you may never have before. It’s definitely a skill worth refining!


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