16) Yes, I’m listening…

Listening is a special art. I mean active listening, not just with half an ear. Listening in a way that you pay full attention to another person, that you are really interested in what the other one says. That is something Michael Ende already said in his beautiful book “Momo”: it is important to listen in the right way!

I get the impression that many people do not get heard these days, when they want to say something. Or no one is listening long enough to them, because time seems to be missing. Or maybe it only seems to us that the others are not listening properly. At work I often meet people that do not want to talk to me, but they want to tell me something. Then it seems like they have no one else, who can listen to what they have to say, than a stranger who is standing in the streets, trying to do its job. I remind you of the very first story, “Listening in Berlin”.

Listening can be practised. At my university there is a regular meeting that is dealing with exactly that. In the round of talks it is everyone’s turn once. Everybody has a certain timeframe for talking, to get something off their chest or talk about anything random. And the others have to listen. No one is allowed to interrupt, no commenting, just listening. And often, this is already enough.

A similar exercise is what we did just a while ago, in a seminar that was a lot about the right way to communicate. We had to sit back-to-back with another person and then had at first one person, then the other one two minutes time to talk about anything. And the second person had two minutes a silent intermission. Afterwards we were supposed to repeat the core message of the other one. What had happened? I completely embarked to the narration of my partner, because I knew it was her time to talk now. And her story had my full attention. Because we were sitting back-to-back and the sound was hindered, I had to listen even better to not miss out on anything. I thought it was a great exercise.

This might be a bit unusual text for this purpose, not really a story, but I am convinced that listening to each other will bring us all further together.