Chapter 3. Listen


"To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the 'music,' but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind's hearing to your ears' natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning."

 --Peter Senge

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

 --Winston Churchill

"A wise old owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why are we not more like that wise old owl?"

 --Chinese Proverb

Why are we not more like the wise old owl? How come we all struggle when it comes to listening—to hearing (and understanding) what someone is really saying? Perhaps it's because in today's society an emphasis is put on speaking well, but rarely are we encouraged to listen well. Our parents reminded us to speak slowly; or not to speak with our mouths full. Teachers told us to sit still and keep our mouths shut. College and universities offer classes in public speaking; but nowhere in the curriculum is there a course that concentrates on listening. As such, we are at an automatic disadvantage when we enter into new relationships. Our tendency is to ...

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