When someone really hears you it feels so good!
Following Shakespeare’s advice, “Listen to many, speak to a few,” is easier said than done. Yet, as Peter Hudson suggests, most of us will recognise, from personal experience, the sentiments expressed by Carl Rogers when describing the beneficial impact of someone really listening to you. This applies to children of all ages and adults alike.
The Power of Listening
Carl Rogers is probably one of the best known ‘Listeners’ in the world of therapy. In fact he excelled in many categories but it’s listening we’re concerned with here. He’s even inspired jokes – but I’ll spare you those. He went in for great book titles too. Just think about the depth of ‘On Becoming a Person’! Listening, as I have described it before and as we teach to teachers, accentuates clarification and action planning; but there are other aspects. Here is what Rogers wrote in a talk at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in 1964.
I like to be heard. A number of times in my life I have felt myself bursting with insoluble problems, or going round and round in tormented circles or, during one period, overcome by feelings of worthlessness and despair. I think I have been more fortunate than most in finding, at these times, individuals who have been able to hear me and thus to rescue me from the chaos of my feelings, individuals who have been able to hear my meanings a little more deeply than I have known them.
These persons have heard me without judging me, diagnosing me, appraising me, evaluating me. They have just listened and clarified and responded to me at all the levels at which I was communicating.
At these times it has relaxed the tension in me. It has permitted me to bring out the frightening feelings, the guilts, the despair, the confusions that have been a part of my experience. I can testify that when you are in psychological distress and someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mould you, it feels damn good!
When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens, how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard. I have deeply appreciated the times that I have experienced this sensitive, empathic, concentrated listening.’
So once again Listening promotes achievement – very good for schools!