GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

April 3, 2013

Letter: Revisiting the need to truly listen

To the editor:

When we use the Internet, a phone or an iPad, we feel we’re connecting with others in the best ways, but we aren’t.

There’s no substitute that I know of for being present to a person except in corporeal form, communicating with him or her with gestures, eye contact, palpable reactions in spoken language.

In this ultra-technical era, we’re fast becoming disconnected, sitting before our computers either in cubicles or in our homes, walking the streets with a cell phone pressed to our ear, using an iPad with its variety of contacts. I’ve noticed people using them in restaurants, ignoring their table mates.

Are we turning into a nation of robots? I’ve heard that middle class jobs are disappearing due to their being assigned to robotic technology or their being sent overseas.

Let’s issue a plea for real listening, not only helping us feel connected and maybe even going so far as to revivify our economy.

An example of real listening is a therapist’s mien. Total concentration on the patient, encouraging self-exploration can even be applicable to more ordinary interchange.

Two people can engage in dialogue that ends by being satisfying and fruitful. Each one feels heard unlike much of life’s talk. Too often, very insistent high-pitched sales efforts are spewed over the TV or radio guided by commercialism. It’s hard to do, but just ignore them and revert to listening.

Be fully present to one another. Put aside any distractions like the need to follow a schedule or the intrusion of an uncalled for comment. Explore an idea without interruption.

Be aware of the listener’s body language, which can convey a lot. Hopefully, the idea will evolve because of approving signals through eye contact, coming to full bloom, laying the groundwork for an original thought you didn’t know you harbored.

Explore, evolve, invent: one of the satisfying outcomes of real listening. And there are others.

CYNTHIA FISK

Chapel Street, Gloucester

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