“When I ask you to listen to me

And you start giving advice,

You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you begin to tell me

why I shouldn’t feel that way,

You are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you feel you have to do something

to solve my problem,

You have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works for some people.

Because God is mute and doesn’t offer

Advice or try to fix things.

God just listens and trusts

You to work it out for yourself.

So, please just listen and hear me.

And if you want to talk,

Wait a few minutes for your turn;

And I promise I will listen to you.”

Anonymous, attributed elsewhere as being found in David Bailey and Sharon Dreyer’s book: Therapeutic Approaches to the Care of the Mentally Ill (1977).

Creative Commons license courtesy w.marsh

Creative Commons license courtesy w.marsh

Active listening and sacred listening and just listening all go a long way towards building connection between us humans. Even with the best of ears, there’s a lot that can be lost along the way. I wonder how we’ve done so well!

I wonder, too, what kinds of experiences you’ve had when you’re tried a new way of listening.

10 thoughts on “Listen

  1. I simply listen. I practice letting go of my own silently spoken words that come. And I really listen. This is an act of kindness for us both. I just sit with whatever is shared.

    I also offer help. I help when it’s accepted. I don’t when it’s rejected. I celebrate too. Sometimes with the other, and sometimes on my own. I want happiness for us both.

    Thank you for sharing this poem and your lovely reflections on listening.

  2. Hello Line,
    I’m glad you enjoy it. feel free to pass it along as it was passed to me many years ago. I’ve included the attribution so you or others can go back to the source.
    I’m curious to learn how your listening affects you and those around you.

  3. I have always been the kind of girl everyone else comes to to confess thier sorrows and wrong-doings, and I really don’t mind that, Not at all. But when I was young I did sometimes feel that I was like a psychologist, and I was also young myself. Now I don’t mind at all. I am more of the kind of person who will tell something from my own life to make people feel safe and secure. I really have no problems admitting my weaknesses and short-comings, and I find that people feel more at ease then. So I am not a good counsellor, because I am not proffesional enough, The reason why I loved your post so much is that I find many people to be fixers instead of listeners.

  4. You’re welcome. How fortunate for those around you, that you can simply listen. I agree it’s an act of kindness for both the speaker and listener.

  5. Guilty! I have started to be a better listener, and continue to work on this daily….. but I still cringe at the memory of my past “best advice” persona. Living and learning.

  6. Yes, I’m with you that I’m on a path of continued practice. I’m aspiring to be a more complete listener than in my past. Keep practicing! Thanks.

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