Like a fish in water, we often don’t consider how we live in the world and react to it until we leave a familiar place and have to learn the cultural behaviors of others.
My journey into listening began the day I left England determined to hitchhike overland down the length of Africa. I knew a little French, (which was spoken in some parts of Africa by the educated) but none of the indigenous languages. I was going to have to make it by making do, by paying close attention to the signals people were putting out — their tone of voice, how they said what they said, their body language, etc.
This proved to be especially tough for me since I grew up in a cold household with virtually no communication. But I found that if I started to open my heart, I could understand the essence of what people said without necessarily understanding their words.
As you can imagine, this transformed my trip from a sightseeing adventure into a rich journey through others’ experiences as I gradually made my way through hundreds of villages and towns.
This overland passage which began with going to South Africa and extended on to Cairo and then Asia, laid the groundwork for my interest in communication… and subsequently into conscious listening.
Please join me as I explore over time all things listening and not listening — what it costs us, how to become more skillful at it, and how we can enrich ourselves and others by noticing more of what goes on around us.