Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Forgotten Art of Deep Listening

--by Kay Lindahl (Jun 20, 2006)

Think of the difference it would make if each of us felt really listened to when we spoke. Imagine the time it would save to be heard the first time around, instead of having to repeat ourselves over and over again. Envision a conversation in which each person is listened to with respect, even those whose views are different from ours. This is all possible in conversations of the heart, when we practice the sacred art of listening. It takes intention and commitment. We need to slow down to expand our awareness of the possibilities of deep listening. The simple act of listening to each other can transform all of our relationships. Indeed, it can transform the world, as we practice being the change we wish to see in the world.

"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." There are some interesting statistics that validate this claim by Ernest Hemingway. Most of us spend about 45 percent of our waking hours listening, yet we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful about 75 percent of that time. Marketing studies indicate that the average attention span for adults is 22 seconds. (Think about television commercials, which usually last 15 to 30 seconds). When someone has finished speaking, we remember about half of what we heard. Within a few hours, we can recall only about 20 percent. The number of adults who have had any training in listening skills is less than 5 percent of our population. It hasn't been part of the curriculum in most schools.

After hearing these statistics, a business executive reflected: "This is very interesting. I just realized that I spend a great deal of time preparing myself to speak. I don't think I have ever prepared myself to listen." Deep listening is a forgotten art.

Listening is not a passive activity. It's not about being quiet or even hearing the words. It is an action, and it takes energy to listen.

--Kay Lindahl

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9 Previous Reflections:

On Aug 30, 2018 Michele Purcell wrote:

 i think this is ever so true!  we are so busy thinking about what we are going to say or what we are going to do, we lose the conversation.  we need to listen for just the respect but also there are so many learning things from listening.  whether you believe the same way or not it doesn't matter.  Knowledge is important in everything.  :)

On Jan 22, 2015 C.L. GURNANI wrote:


On Jan 22, 2015 patricia wrote:

 I totally agree and Ifind it is very  pleasant to be listened to properly so l et's do to others what we would like them to do to us! It does take energy to listen,and also yo mus tbe  willing to  let your ego take s econd place.

On Jan 22, 2015 4everblooming wrote:

A quiet interested open mind seems to absorb.  It is deep listening. I am working on getting to that deep listening place much more often. Each day I think "today I will listen carefully and with respect".

On Jan 22, 2015 Jean wrote:

Listen is a skill that needs to be develop and practice in order to become a valuable tool.  As I sharpen this tool I discover that by paying attention and listen to  others and to myself I can see emotions, feelings,  likes and dislikes that sometimes i don't want to deal with them. People are reflections of who we really are, by listening to their story we can learn so much about ourselves. 

On Jan 22, 2015 Kim wrote:

 Not only do we not listen to others, but we do not listen to ourselves.  I find myself like Chicken Little, running around spreading worry, and if I stop and only listen I learn very quickly it is only an acorn.  As you write the comment ask, did you take time to read the comments and "listen" to others?

On Jan 22, 2015 Lee wrote:

 So true. At times people just want to hear their voices heard but really taking time out to listen to the next person also broadens one's horizon.

On Jun 20, 2006 Suchitra wrote:
Very true indeed!I am also developing the art of deep listening,& I find that the person who is being heard really appreciates your attention &reciprocates leading to development of mutual respect which helps in finding easy solution to any problem.

On Jun 20, 2006 Ashok wrote:
Art of deep listenig - the title itself tells the importance of it.
I did not have training in listening skills. But through life experice I found that Listening to others as well as listening to your own "instincts" are very important and beneficial.