Loosen or tighten? (The listening continuum)


Do we really listen to people? Of course, it is too easy to say yes, but… really really? When we’re listening to someone, do we realise that the other person is right from her point of view? Do we see how she has structured her world, the fundamental ideas that underpin her thinking, how the themes emerge from them, how the thoughts are constructed? I ask again, do we really listen?

The listening continuum is positioned between two extremes:

  • In one side, we can choose to “be taken over” by the story, falling in love, getting lost. Our world gets filtered by someone else’s lenses. That is loosening.
  • In the opposite side, we are there with a purpose. The more that we hear something that doesn’t fit in our agenda, the more we internally react, the more we internally tighten. Every word is filtered through our lenses. That is tightening.

You tighten when you read a work report. You loosen when you read a nice book. In the first case you have a purpose: to extract the relevant information. In the second case you open yourself to a new world, and enjoy.

This is why, when a friend is in need, you have to loosen first. To try to understand the other’s perspective, not to give advice, but to empathise. Otherwise you will never get it. As you will never get poetry, or you will not ever fully enjoy a book. Yes… you were trying to reach the end and to know what finally happened, but that was wasting a book too. You should have loosened.

That’s why no one can really enjoy a powerpoint. No matter how hard you try. It can surprise, impress, but make you enjoy? Open a new window of fuzzy tones to restructure your thoughts? Never ever.

Try listening credulously next time!


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