Do you love to help others but wonder what’s really the best thing you can do?
Not everybody enjoys volunteering, which is one wonderful way to help… but there is something each and every one of us can do as a way to help our friends, relatives, colleagues, and even complete strangers.
The best help you can ever offer is compassionate listening.
“You can practice deep listening in order to relieve the suffering in us, and in the other person. That kind of listening is described as compassionate listening. You listen only for the purpose of relieving suffering in the other person.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Think about how wonderful you feel when you really feel heard.
When you feel that the person you are spilling your heart out to is really listening.
Not only are they really ‘getting’ you, they’re remaining non-judgmental and understanding things from your perspective.
If this is an important part of connecting with others for you, please enjoy this short video in which Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh explains how real compassionate listening helps more than anything else.
Would you agree that this short video explains how deeply listening, or compassionate listening, is all that is really required to help a person?
For the simple reason that it helps them suffer less. It allows them to release and not suppress!
Much of the time, when others are speaking, would you agree that we only half-listen?
The reason being that we’re formulating our own answers or possible solutions ( from our own perception ) in our mind as they’re still speaking.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that compassionate listening or real deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person.
Reminding us that :
“You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty their heart. Even if he or she says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion.”
We are all suffering, to some extent and for someone to acknowledge our suffering and be compassionate to it, is a gift that demonstrates unconditional love.
Compassionate listening also helps us understand our perceptions of ourselves – an awareness that leads to personal growth.
“I love this idea of deep listening because often when someone comes to you and wants to vent, it’s so tempting to start giving advice.
“But if you allow the person just to let the feelings out, and then at another time come back with advice or comments, that person would experience a deeper healing.”
Compassionate listening gives the other person a chance to suffer less. All that’s required is a good ear and a zipped mouth, with no interruption and or side tracking.
Nhat Hanh so wonderfully reminds us that:
“Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us.”
What can you do today, to begin practicing compassionate listening?
- We can practice remaining silent, the next time we find ourselves listening to another.
Even if you have words of wisdom to share, allow them to finish speaking.
At all costs, avoid interrupting them because that is a sign that you are more interested in what you have to say than in what they have to say.
Only speak when you are asked a question; otherwise, imagine yourself as a tree: offer shade to your friend, but do not speak.
Practice compassionate listening with everyone:
- Your spouse.
- Your children.
- Your boss.
- Your neighbors.
- Employees, colleagues and even strangers.
Your mind will expand as you learn from them, and your heart will expand from the love you are sharing through compassionate listening!