How To Listen

(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)

“What’d you say?” he asked.  Realizing he couldn’t remember crossing the bridge she created–the bridge over which her words matured into tears–he felt a great shame settle over him.  Leo Tolstoy wrote, “The tears seemed to be the proper lubricant without which the machine of mutual communion between the two sisters could not work successfully.”  Similarly, her tears contained the power to recapture his attention.  The tears also had the effect of making him want to listen.  He briefly wondered how anyone found his way without Tolstoy.

Hours later, he made it a point to determine if he’d always had difficulty listening.  At first, his ego caused him to deny such a charge and pointed out that he was an excellent student.  He also recalled how he excelled in a professional environment.  Both required the ability to listen.  Reluctantly, he opened the door Doubt was moments away from breaking down.  He didn’t have very many close friends.  He certainly hadn’t made any new friends in years.  Swallowing his just-a-bit-too-large-a-bite-of-food-which-chokes-but-doesn’t-kill pride, he finally admitted the truth.  He objectified people.

This was the only way he could make sense of it.  If the person he was with couldn’t help him in some way, his mind found better things to do.  Even before this revelation solidified, he had difficulty believing this was a deficient quality.  That difficulty became an uncommon resolve which he used to summit his problem.  At last he stood atop his terrifying realization.  This never-before-seen perspective decisively gave him the vantage point necessary for change.

Instructions for How To Listen:

Step 1 – Stop talking.

Step 2 – Stop objectifying people.


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