The Lost Art of Listening and Why It Matters – especially in 2022

Listening in 2022Recent political events and social issues have upended an already fierce society.  Many Americans are now faced with wading through the implications of court decisions, social activism, and an economic outlook that shifts like waves crashing during low and high tide.

There is an unspoken frustration that extends to most all of us.  And if we are honest with ourselves, at our most basic emotional level – we are angry.  Angry about outcomes and the effect it will have upon our daily lives.  Angry about how unsolicited stresses have or will impact our ability to relate to friends and family.  Angry about the unforeseen consequences that will impact our future just when we thought our lives could finally settle down from the pandemic.

And more blatantly, we are angry that we have to pretend and tell ourselves “It’s fine, I’m fine.” There isn’t an emotionally safe, or productive, place to discuss our thoughts and emotions without fearing some sort of backlash that would jeopardize the already fragile relationships with others.  We don’t want to risk any more splintering and erosion of the community that once seemed that it could weather the storm of differences of opinion and ideology.

The window of our courage to entertain new ideas and a willingness to learn from different perspective has been slammed shut by threats of violence, banishment, and isolationism. The once cherished virtue of Listening has been scampering around the forest of our discourse searching for a place to call home.  Somehow, it seems the time has come for us to open the door and offer it some hospitality.

Listening.  What is it?  How do we do listen to one another?   Usually this is the part of the conversation that I would offer some nuanced definition from my perspective as a professional counselor.  Yet, this time I am going to refrain simply because it would only add to the existing rhetoric.  Instead, I encourage you to choose one of the abundant resources that are easily found and spend some time engaging with them.  Maybe even with a few of them.

Clients often arrive at counseling because they need help seeking answers and resolution.  A time such as this is no different.  People are looking for answers toward conflict resolution and regaining a sense of commonality to move forward together again.  I’m honest enough to admit, I don’t have the answer.  Like you, I only have opinions.

However, I’m eager to listen to yours and others’ with sincerity and an open-mind.  Because if I don’t have the answer then it also means my opinions can be wrong.   And there is freedom in this space that is also accompanied by an opportunity for positive change.  What do you think?  I’m not going to talk.  Just listen.

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