Difference between Listening and Pretending

The difference between listening and pretending to listen,

discovered, is enormous. 

One is fluid,
the other is rigid;

one is alive, the other is stuffed. 

Eventually I found a radical way of thinking
about listening:

real listening is a willingness

to let the other person change


~ Alan Alda in Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

6 thoughts on “Difference between Listening and Pretending

  1. The photo compelled me to read the article linked in the photo credit. This paragraph really impacts me and prompts me to take my role of listener to my students seriously:
    “The role of the listener or helper is to allow such an individual to open the lock gates. When he does, the water gushes out. During this venting process, there is still too much pressure for a person to consider other perspectives. Only when the water level has leveled off between the two compartments, does the water begin to flow evenly back and forth. The role of the listener is to help empty the large reservoirs of emotion, anger, stress, frustration and other negative feelings until the individual can see more clearly. Not until then, can a party consider the needs of the other. Perhaps we can think of it as listening first aid.”

  2. Oh I really relate to that.  My family has learned that I think by talking…they are usually very gracious to let me “gush”.  Then I usually figure things out mid conversation.  I’ve always considered it a handicap…to need to blurt without knowing what I think about something.

  3. I have been thinking about this entry, and I know that the times that I’m a best listener is when I decide I’m not going to be thinking of a response as the person is talking. That frees me up some to just LISTEN to what they have to say. Isn’t it amazing how we always feel like we have to get our two bits’ worth in every conversation?

  4. So true.  I’m guilty.  On a rare occasion I catch myself, and I try to either say, “So what you’re saying is….” and repeat back what I’ve heard.  Or three wonderful words: tell me more.Two ears.One mouth.Be still and listen.I need to paint these words in fingernail polish on my bathroom mirror.

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