No, this post is not about Noddy and his friend Big Ears. It’s about using our ears in big ways. I read recently that we generally don’t listen to hear, but instead listen to reply. While the other person is speaking, we’re already working out what we’re going to reply. It made me stop and think. People have said before that I am a good listener, but I suspect I am usually listening to reply too.
Today I had the experience of someone listening to me to hear. I’m not in any way implying that others I have talked to recently weren’t listening to me, but this time it was different. This time I knew that the person who was listening to me, heard what I said. He got it. He really got it.
This person was my doctor and I was seeing him for a totally different reason. I admit I have been less than flattering in my blog of him in the past. That comes because he and I have a different understanding of one of my diagnoses. But this time, my time was up and I was treading on his lunch hour (or half hour). But he took the time to listen to something I haven’t been able to tell anyone for what seems like a very long time. And he accepted it and he got it.
No doubt in time I will be complaining again about his understanding of my illness, but for today he sat there, listened and reflected back to me what he had heard. Actually the real impact came for me as I walked away from the surgery. When I realised I had told someone and it was okay. The world was not going to end.
It’s simple stuff, but I know only too well when listening to another it is easy to be consumed by our own stuff. One could easily say that my doctor was paid to listen to me, but we all know that doesn’t work in practise. They’re pushing for time, and it just doesn’t happen. We get our allotted 15 minutes (if we’re lucky) and there’s no time for conversation.
The fact that he listened today left me with an enormous amount of relief. It hasn’t changed anything in my life, except that today I know that for a few minutes I was heard. And for that I am thankful.
“People love to talk but hate to listen. Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.”
― Alice Duer Miller