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Active Listening

'Active listening' means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is, fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.  As we come out of our Covid cocoons and begin to meet those we care about in person, we realize that we have been out of practice listening to one another, in person, in real time.  With that in mind, we invite you to identify one person in your life that you haven’t seen in a while to spend time with and really listen to that individual.

Here are some pointers on active listening from two Jewish sources:

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z’’l:

“Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. It means that we are open to the other, that we respect him or her, that their perceptions and feelings matter to us. We give them permission to be honest, even if this means making ourselves vulnerable in so doing. A good parent listens to their child. A good employer listens to his or her workers. A good company listens to its customers or clients. A good leader listens to those he or she leads. Listening does not mean agreeing but it does mean caring. Listening is the climate in which love and respect grow.

Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. “

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow:

“King Solomon wrote, 'As the waters reflect the face [that peers into them] so does the heart reflect the heart.' Waters only reflect the face when they are clear and transparent. When they are murky, they don’t reflect at all. The same is true of us. When we become transparent, free of ourselves, our interlocutor feels completely at home in our presence. They look into our face and see a reflection of themselves. They find empathy and understanding, nearly as if they see themselves staring back at them. In other words, active listening means to turn yourself into a mirror.”

Fri, August 19 2022 22 Av 5782