Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Symphonic Listening

Have you ever been to a symphony? No one applauds until the vibrations of the instruments cease or the resounding echos have finished reaching the back row of the balcony and returned again to stage. It isn't until these resounding echos have given themselves fully to the whole room that the audience beings to applaud.

Perhaps, listening, true listening, is very similar.

Communication consists of more than the moving of the lips. Yet, the cessation of such movement is typically taken as our cue to respond. As it is with the musical sounds of an orchestra, communication isn't complete when the lips stop moving, rather when the vibrations of those words and where they originated from have had time to reach the back of who we are and once again returned…

It isn't until those words have had time to give themselves fully to us, or until we've had ample time to receive, perceive and understand more fully what's behind those words. After all, the masterpiece being played by the orchestra is much greater than the notes on the page. It isn't until all these notes come together that music emerges. So it is with human communication, it's more than the words, much more indeed.

Unfortunately, under the trance of time efficiency, we often are prone to spend more time thinking of a response or rebuttal while the other party is talking, than actually engaging the words coming forth from them. As such, we only hear the "notes" and miss the "song" all together. As William Isaacs said, “People don’t listen. They reload.”

Yet, when we refrain from merely “reloading,” there’s a knowing and wisdom that emerges out of the silence. This wisdom then speaks into the present. "Silence," Henri Nouwen wrote, “teaches me to speak.”

I’ve noticed that one of the most “full” and deeply resounding moments are those moments just after one has shared from the core of who they are…

In such moments, it seems, the last thing that is needed is for me to speak…

"But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak."
(James 1:19)

True leadership and spiritual maturity is marked by one's ability to restrain their judgments and inner-responses long enough to simply and purely listen and engage on a level deeper than the audible decibels... with the heart and spirit.

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