A friend lifts up his/her chair, moves it closer to you, leans forward and declares: 'Right, I'm all ears'. They then proceed to listen attentively and empathetically. How do you feel? Is it not like soothing balm on aggravated skin?
Given that we have two ears and just one mouth there really ought to be double the amount of listening going on. Can you name the five different types of listening? Empathetic, attentive, selective, pretending, ignore. What kind of a listener are you?
I remember reading an article that quoted Job 6:3 where it says that Job, because of his disappointment and sadness in life uttered "wild talk". I am infinitely grateful to the counselors over the years who have allowed me my "wild talk" when I've been depressed and distressed. They have not said things like: "You shouldn't feel like that!" They have not shown shock or disappointment or tried to 'fix me'. They have simply listened attentively allowing me to feel. This has given fluidity to the feelings which allows them to pass and move on, just like a leaf floating down stream.
Honing our listening skills is not only medicinal to those feeling heard but it actually lessens our stress levels too. Why? Because we don't feel we have to find magic words, perfect advice or ideal solution.
I once drew a big ear walking on short legs with the those 3 golden little words protruding from its mouth: "I'm all ears." (don't ask me where an ears mouth is). So, the next time someone starts opening up to you, maybe imagine that you are one big ear!