The Understanding of 'Listening' within the LISTENING PROJECT →
'Listening' is already believed to be 'a good thing' in a number of different contexts. It is recommended that parents listen to their children, a therapist's intention is to listen attentively to their clients, in a moral sense 'good listeners' are to be cherished and listening is understood to be an effective and potentially promising social skill that might improve relationships between partners and amongst friends and make possible professional success. Consequently, when we come across the proposed LISTENING PROJECT, it is tempting to impose upon it that which we thus far understand by 'listening' and thereby possibly limits its scope. How we perceive of a project is a part of that project's realisation.
How should the LISTENING PROJECT's 'listening' be understood? How might we describe it?
The LISTENING PROJECT focuses on listening as a productive key element of cooperation – 'an enriching exchange in which all participants benefit from the encounter'. (Richard Sennet) Listening within the LISTENING PROJECT is, first of all, a doing activity. It is an 'and', an 'ah', a taking up of what has been said. That is to say the listening shelters what has been said, keeps it, then sets it in motion again. The listening doesn’t happen only in the listening; it is also embedded in the speaking. The speaker anticipates the activity of listening through the manner in which he lays down what he has to say in front of the other. It is this productive encounter - a kind of dance for two - with which the LISTENING PROJECT experiments. The specifics of what might be produced defy intention. Intentionality contradicts the openness which is fundamental to listening. To 'intend' would imply that you have some idea beforehand of the proposed dialogue's content. Of course, a new idea, a connection, a meaning, some relief, a solution, a question, anything that occurs in productive interaction - an element of compassion, therapy, a moral sensing, social skill – all of these are to be embraced.
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing. →
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
Dr. Karl Augustus Menninger, American psychiatrist and founder of the Menninger Foundation and Menninger Clinic
Listening is such a simple act. →
Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don‘t have to do anything else. We don‘t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.
Margaret J. Wheatley, American writer and management consultant
Courage is to sit down and listen. →
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
Sir Winston Churchill, British Conservative politician, statesman, Prime Minister, a writer, and artist
To listen is to give up all expectation. →
To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.
Mark Nepo, American poet and philosopher, The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live an Authentic Life
To be listened to is enormously stimulating. →
To be listened to is, generally speaking, a nearly unique experience for most people. It is enormously stimulating. It is a small wonder that people who have been demanding all their lives to be heard so often fall speechless when confronted with one who gravely agrees to lend an ear. Man clamors for the freedom to express himself and for knowing that he counts. But once offered these conditions, he becomes frightened.
Robert William Murphy, American author, Galgary street talk, Power of listening
Listening is to discover secrets together. →
She talked a while and I would listen and then I would talk. Our conversation simply went along without strain. We seemed to discover secrets together.
Charles Bukowski, American poet, novelist and short story writer, Short stories collection - Confession of a Coward
In listening we are confronted with a situation in which we have to take provisional, impossible steps. →
When one is listening, however, it is not so important to be ‘right’ at every single step of the process. It is not essential that what we receive should be translatable in articulations which are legitimate, lucid, correct, coherent, unassailable. When concerned with listening one can repeatedly be wrong in a propensity to create a more enlightening relationship in which even the object can teach and instruct. We are confronted with a situation in which we have to take provisional, impossible steps in order to continue to listen and thus consent that something may come across.
Gemma Corradi Fiumara, Professor of Philosophy at the Third University of Rome, The other side of language - A philosophy of listening
Listening ahead into the sphere from which the clue comes. →
In order to perceive a clue, we must first be listening ahead into the sphere from which the clue comes.
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, What is Called Thinking?
Duet Dance - Listening involves a total acceptance of the other. →
An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one‘s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker‘s world from the inside, step in inside his or her shoes. This unification of speaker and listener is actually an extension and enlargement of ourselves, and new knowledge is always gained from this. Moreover, since true listening involves bracketing, a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the other. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will fell less and less vulnerable and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the duet dance of love is begun again.
M. Scott Peck, American psychiatrist, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth