Compassionate Listening

The University of Notre Dame Professor Professor, and peace-builder, John Paul Lederach observes in “Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians” that often “In conflict, before we even hear what the other side has said, we assume we know what they mean. We have already attached motives to their messages. Often, even before they have finished, we are developing our response.”

William Isaacs writes, in “Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together”: “As one person I know recently joked, “People do not listen, they reload.””

The root of all conflicts, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us, in “Listening Deeply for Peace”, is “ignorance,” which “gives rise to misunderstanding, which can lead to violent thoughts and behavior.”

The sage teaches us: “The secret of creating peace is that when you listen to another person you have only one purpose: to offer him an opportunity to empty his heart. If you are able to keep that awareness and compassion alive in you, then you can sit for one hour and listen even if the other person’s speech contains a lot of wrong perceptions, condemnations and bitterness. You can continue to listen because you are already protected by the nectar of compassion in your own heart.”

David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, the oral history project, tells Krista Tippett in a 2014 conversation that deeply listening to someone is one “of the most profound and powerful ways we have to tell someone else how much we love them.”

Peace 😊

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