On Listening

One of our associates, Keith Gregory, collects inspirational quotes and has been sending them out in occasional emails to his friends and acquaintances ever since I've known him. This morning, quote number 428 arrived in my inbox: 

  • “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~ Karl A. Menniger

I love this quote and immediately added it to my own collection of quotes - ones that are in some way related to Clean Language - and then I got to thinking that instead of hoarding all these quotes in case they come in useful some day (I have a big 'just in case' pattern), I could start sharing them. Inspired by this quote, I chose the topic of listening, so here are 24 more quotes about listening. And if you have any more, please do add them to the comments section below.

  1. "Our primary call is to be listeners at the heart of our world." ~ Diarmuid O'Murchu


  2. "The quality of your attention determines the quality of other peoples’ thinking." ~ Nancy Kline


  3. "Listening to people helps them pour out a little of their current thinking so they can make room for new thinking. There are even times when listening does all the work. When you listen deeply to someone, they listen to themselves and sometimes that alone is enough to change their minds." ~ Annette Simmons


  4. "What people really need is a good listening to." ~ Mary Lou Casey


  5. "To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation." ~ Chinese Proverb


  6. "Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don't have to do anything else. We don't have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen." ~ Margaret Wheatley


  7. "One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them." ~ Dean Rusk


  8. "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention." ~ Rachel Naomi Remen


  9. "Your understanding of another person is limited by what you think you already know. So when you just listen, the person you meet won't match your preconception. The exciting thing is that you usually meet someone much wiser and kinder than you expected. You might also lose track of your ideas about who you are." ~ Byron Katie


  10. "All of us need better skills in listening, conversing, respecting one another's uniqueness, because these are essential for strong relationships." ~ Margaret Wheatley


  11. "I listen a lot and talk less. You can't learn anything while you're talking." ~ Bing Crosby


  12. "One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider our problems, can change our whole outlook on the world." ~ Elton Mayo 


  13. "The human soul doesn’t want to be fixed, it simply wants to be seen and heard. The soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient and shy. When we go crashing through the woods shouting for it to come out so we can help it, the soul will stay in hiding. But if we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while, the soul may show itself." ~ Parker J. Palmer


  14. "The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention." ~ Richard Moss


  15. "The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear." ~ Baba Ram Dass


  16. "Silence is one of the great arts of conversation." ~ Cicero


  17. "Attentive listening means giving one’s total and undivided attention to the other person and tells the other that we are interested and concerned. Listening is difficult work that we will not undertake unless we have deep respect and care for the other ... we listen not only with our ears, but with our eyes, mind, heart and imagination, as well …. We listen to the words of the other, but we also listen to the messages buried in the words. We listen to the voice, the appearance, and the body language of the other .... We simply try to absorb everything the speaker is saying verbally and nonverbally without adding, subtracting, or amending." ~ Carl Rogers


  18. "You can learn to be a better listener, but learning it is not like learning a skill that is added to what we know. It is a peeling away of things that interfere with listening, our preoccupations, our fear, of how we might respond to what we hear." ~ Ian McWhinney


  19. "When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." ~ Ernest Hemingway


  20. "This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going." ~ Sarah Dessen

  21. "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." ~ Steven R. Covey


  22. "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." ~ Ralph G. Nichols


  23. "Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer." ~ Alice Duer Miller


  24. "Listening effectively to others can be the most fundamental and powerful communication tool of all. When someone is willing to stop talking or thinking and begin truly listening to others, all of their interactions become easier, and communication problems are all but eliminated." ~ Ken Johnson

Tags: clean language, listening skills, carl rogers, steven covey, annette simmons, ken johnson, keith gregory, nancy kline

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About the author

Marian Way

Company Director & Trainer, Portchester, Fareham
A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be... #DramaFree. Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She's trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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