Why do we listen? It’s a question we ask ourselves a lot, and depending on who we ask we’ll hear different answers. That’s because listening doesn’t serve one singular purpose – it’s as much an action we take out of care for others as one we take for ourselves.
Listening for a reason.
How do we build a community where we can sit together, bringing our whole selves, and find solutions to our common problems? It starts with listening.
- Sabina Mohyuddin, American Muslim Advisory Council
Some quick tips to help:
- Identify your reasons to listen. Take a minute to figure out what motivates you in your ongoing practice of listening. Is it to build better relationships with the people around you? Is it to find solutions to pressing problems, or to learn more about the world around you?
- Remember to include yourself in your list of reasons. We tend to talk about listening as an act we do for other people. But listening isn’t a form of charity: it’s an act of collective good that is meant to benefit everyone, ourselves included. Listening gives us a chance to develop, to connect, and to be heard ourselves.
- …But don’t make it the only thing on the list. True listening isn’t simply a means to an end, and it doesn’t work if we only do it in order to get something we want. A key component of listening is a real desire to hear and understand. Remember that everyone has room left to learn – ourselves included.
Take a minute and use our #PledgeToListen Listening Guide to review some of what listening helps us do, and use these examples to start setting some personal goals and reminders for why you listen.
This listening tip is part of a weekly #PledgeToListen series which provides advice, examples, and perspectives on creating conversations across divides.
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