Active Listening

I cannot claim the writing below. This came out of a recent course I took on Motivational Interviewing. A huge part of Motivational Interviewing is listening, however I think we can all learn something from becoming better listeners. It’s truly an art form, and if we treat it as such, we can improve these skills to love people more like Jesus did. Read. Digest. Sit in Quiet. Practice. And let’s chat! Or rather… Let’s listen!

-Alicia Vann

Listener’s Creed

Some consider listening a passive behavior,
inferior to the noble art of talking
But I maintain it requires great effort
and is a practice of the brave, not the cowardly
For it demands selfless presence
…and how difficult it is to let go of ourselves
I listen to you when I open my ears
even to discordant sounds they wish not to hear,
When I provide you with space
to search your depths and translate your feelings
into words, tears or movements of release,
leaving you a little lighter and less congested
And when I honor you by allowing you
to express whatever surfaces from within (sic)
—whether anguish, delight, fear, rage or confusion—
without abandoning you by speaking of myself,
changing the subject, reassuring you
or attempting to be humorous.
I listen to you when I allow my heart
to soften to your pain
with compassion, not personal identification
And when I breathe with you
and reflect your emotion.
I listen to you when I invite silence to sit with us,
rather than slay it with my own discomfort
or feelings of powerlessness
And when I cease focusing on
how your message is relevant to my life
and allow the spotlight to shine solely on you.

I listen to you when I avert the need
to note (sic) similarities and differences
between you and myself or others
And when I allow you to make a statement
without debating it or attempting to convince you
not to feel the way you do.

I listen to you when I recognize you
as the single authority on living your life
and give up trying to influence
your thinking or behavior with “helpful advice”
And when I cease making judgments
—even silent ones—about anything you say.

To listen to you, I do not need
to share your views or your values,
But ever must I practice mindfulness,
compassion, patience, tolerance,
self-restraint and empathy
I listen to you when I properly acknowledge my role,
which is to become a mirror for you
by detaching myself from all thoughts of “me”
and the desire to be seen, heard or validated
…at least until I no longer serve you by listening.”

By: Susan Allen-Meyer (1993)