The Importance of Honest Listening

Once we lose the ability to listen honestly, we lose the opportunity for honest understanding.

The old saying goes: "A hundred hears is not equal to one seeing", to remind us not to just listen to public opinion without studying carefully, without waiting to see it with our own eyes. But the ancients also added that "I see that, not so," because there are things that our eyes see clearly and are still wrong as usual. Like when the other person throws us rage and even very harsh words, we often think that this person must be very hateful or want to attack us. But watch out for mistakes. Maybe the other person is struggling or suffering too much, causing them to lose all energy and no longer have control over themselves. Or maybe it's because they're getting into some kind of misperception with us. Or maybe it's because they're deliberately making moves to test our reactions. Or is it simply because they are upset with someone, but choose us to release our emotions in a "fish slashing" way. If we say, "I don't need to know why. All I know is that you said those words and hurt me," then we shut down the opportunity to express themselves and the chance to show them back to who they really are. I'm going to lose them.

Life always has a lot of pressure, so we are not always strong enough to fully control ourselves, especially when there are unexpected fluctuations. In times of confusion, panic or boredom, we always wish we had a loved one by our side to share. Although they don't help us solve problems, or even advise anything useful, just their wholehearted listening attitude will relieve us of a lot of trouble. Therefore, being heard is an indispensable human need. Paradoxically, however, everyone wants others to listen to us, and we don't listen to anyone. Especially in the current market economy, everyone lives in a hurry, so doing something that requires patience without economic efficiency is very afraid. Every time we ask them to sit down so that we can share some difficult matter, especially one that concerns them, they make all sorts of excuses to decline or ask for an appointment on another occasion. With a polite person, they also accept listening, but control the time to share. They sit there like a lifeless log, their eyes looking far away and constantly glancing at the clock, how can we pour out our hearts and dare to ask them to join us in solving difficulties.

The so-called dearest people who are also afraid to listen to us, who will listen to us? Maybe our sharing style is not cute and unconvincing, but mostly because they always look at us with prejudiced "know, suffer, talk" eyes. If you live with dictators who always think they are right, or who like to use power to impose others, it is already difficult to consult with them. Don't expect them to share their pain and suffering with us. There are children who are upset about being misunderstood, so they lock themselves in their rooms from day to day. There are couples who argue and hurt each other every time they sit down, so they always choose close friends or psychologists to lament. There are elders who do not have the sympathy and attention of their children and grandchildren, so they have to look to pets to confide in. There are people who, because they hold too much grief to express to anyone, fall into depression, psychosis or choose death. It is true that there is nothing more lonely than having so many loved ones by our side, but we have to overcome hardships alone.

If we really want to help the other person relieve the pain that weighs on us, we must first listen to them. Just as the physician before prescribing a pulse, it is necessary to always observe the patient's divinity. After that, they listen carefully to reports or lamentations about the condition. When we decide to listen to someone who is suffering, we accept to play the role of physician to cure their mental illness. Although we are not psychotherapists, with sincerity and the right attitude of listening, we will surely help the other person more or less. So every time we're about to listen, we have to ask if we've really played the role of a helper.

British insurance company Prudential is smart when it comes to the criterion: "Always listen, always understand". They have realized that the fastest and most accurate way to understanding is the attitude of listening. But if we don't have money, the insurance company can't listen to us. Listening to someone with the thought of what we will gain from that listening session, our hearts certainly cannot be fully opened. In fact, sometimes many people are enthusiastic listeners just because they feel valuable when they are trusted by the other person to choose among a large number of people. The funny thing is that even though he knows that listening is only meant to him, the other person still accepts it. Because their goal is just to have more allies to admit they're right, or just to release their exasperated energy. Watch out and stay away from that trap. Don't listen formally and spoil your mind. Once we lose the ability to listen honestly, we lose the opportunity for honest understanding.

The word listening has a very good meaning. You have to "listen" to "hear". "Listening" without "calming" the heart, without stopping to reflect, without letting go of the prejudice or affliction that is overpowering the mind, does not reach the level of understanding the source of the problem. It can also mislead us. The Chinese use the word listening to mean "listening wholeheartedly," while the Americans use the word listening deeply which means "listening deeply," but not with the Vietnamese word listening. For it only expresses the willingness to listen, but does not have the attitude of purifying the mind while listening. In fact, if we're still anxious, angry, and angry, and carrying old experience of that person, we lose the ability to listen in the first place, even when we're trying to listen.

So "listening" is the input of "listening". Without "listening" it is impossible to "hear" completely. From now on, if someone invites us to sit down and listen, let's look at our feelings first. If we find that our minds are still too fluctuating, and we can't calm down for a moment, we should ask them to give us another chance. Conversely, if the other person is willing to listen to us, we should also be careful to ask if they have really "listened." It takes a "listening" attitude to be able to, not enough "listening", we definitely do not speak. "Listening" is the deep silence of the heart.

Musician Trinh Cong Son also discovered this art of listening, so he wrote "Silently sigh I am listening". Without silence it is impossible to listen. And the fullest silence must transcend all speech and thought. Just like when listening to a love song, if we close our eyes to enjoy it, we will easily receive the whole emotion of the performer and the soul of the music. Because the "seeing part" is inherently easy to distract from the "listening part". While listening to others, we should also avoid or minimize what might stir up silence, so that we listen fully, even if it is a sympathetic gaze. Practice listening with your heart. Whether the other person says things that are wrong with the truth or heavy sourness, we practice listening quietly to feel the pain they are suffering. Don't rush to interrupt or judge so we'll understand what caused them to become the way they were.

In the song I'm listening, musician Trinh Cong Son shared: "Silence the river I am listening / Silence the hill I am listening / Silent sigh I am listening / I am listening silently sigh / After the storm through the silence of the human face / Hear the pain on one hand". When we are silent, stop all distractions, let go of all desires or opposition, we will hear a lot of noises around us, whether it is the guttural sigh of a person in the distance, or even the "voiceless" sound of the river and the hill. Life is always in a hurry, so it is easy to forget the habit of listening deeply with our heart. Sometimes the other person speaks very clearly that we don't even understand, let alone they only say half a sentence or be silent for us to reflect on ourselves. Since there is pain hidden in the heart, it cannot be easily said if the listener does not express the sincere vibe from the heart. Knowing this, Zheng Gongshan did not choose to listen with his ears, but only remained silent for his heart to feel for itself. Because the musician had the experience of listening to his own desperate sigh, once stopped to listen to his life — "I'm listening to silence my life."

Therefore, we have to listen and understand ourselves in order to listen and understand others. So from now on, let's find ourselves a quiet space to practice hearing our every step and breath clearly. Those are very close and important sounds that we have long forgotten. In addition, we try to listen silently to every stream of feelings of nostalgia or longing, every thought of anger or jealousy, bad decisions or times of complacency, and even when our minds are completely empty so that we recognize each attitude of our life. Just listen quietly without rushing to interfere or judge, so that we have the opportunity to understand all the deep corners of our souls. Listening to ourselves at all times, whether alone or when interacting with others, we gradually detach from the constraints and control of the situation. As a result, we will have more opportunities to master ourselves. To be in control of yourself is also to be in control of your life. When we take control of our lives, we are brave enough to invite others to participate without causing each other suffering, enough to guide each other through difficult times.

When we listen to ourselves and our loved ones, our ability to listen goes even further. In a moment of silence, we will hear cries of mourning from the dark corners of life amidst all the stirring and indifferent footsteps.

From the silence of my heart
I hear the austerity
Where do the years go
Or does life ring?

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