That Thing We Don't Get Taught

Open most any college catalog and you'll likely find a course on public speaking. Open most any college catalog and you likely won't find a course on listening.

We get taught how to speak. From parents, friends, teachers, movies, the world around us. What we don't get taught is how to listen. Which might explain why being heard feels rare and incredible.

So if listening matters to us, then I think it's on us to learn how to do it. And there's no one path forward.

We could think about how we felt when we were listened to - cared for, not judged, safe? - then work to create those conditions when we're listening.

Or ask all the great listeners we know how they learned to hear another person.

Or work on listening to ourselves. It's hard to be of service to others if we haven't served ourselves.

Or something else entirely.

If there is one approach that works best, though, it's the approach where we're gentle with ourselves. Listening's not easy. If it were, everyone would be superb at it and we'd all walk the earth feeling heard, seen, known. And since listening is hard enough as it is, no need to make it harder by beating ourselves up over it.

What's incredible, too, is that any moment in which we don't listen will be followed by another moment in which we can try again.

So we teach ourselves, and we learn. And we become ever more able to offer someone that rare and incredible feeling of being heard.

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