Two weeks ago, I addressed the Hakomas Matzeiva – Memorial Consecration for my father z”l in Melbourne Australia. I was blessed to have such an outstanding role model as a parent, friend, confidant and adviser. My father raised the bar on so many levels and Boruch Hashem I had plenty material and life changing insights to share with those in attendance.
One of my father’s outstanding virtues was his ability to LISTEN. Not, in one ear and out the other. Not interrupting or imposing his views and thoughts on another. But truly listening, understanding, relating, focusing and being attentive to whomever sought his advice. He had the uncanny ability to tune in and be genuinely interested in what was being told to him. My father was able to make the person speaking to him feel heard and validated. The person confiding in him always felt respected, relaxed and comfortable expressing his perspective without being embarrassed or belittled.
Listening to a person one is dating or even a spouse (and child), is a vital skill required to enhance any type of relationship.
Listening is the art of connecting with another person so you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. It is a vital and necessary skill needed in creating and maintaining a marriage, in parenting children effectively, and in working together and making effective decisions on the job.
I’m sure you can relate because we are all guilty of this at some stage. We have the habit of “tuning out”. We hear what we want to hear and screen out what we don’t. This is known as exercising selective attention and selective perception.
We are so focused on making an impression, or expressing our views that in the course of conversation we fail to truly hear and connect to the one speaking.
In fact in this week’s upcoming Chapter 6, Mishna 6 of Pirkei Avos, 48 qualities one should acquire are listed. The second one is “Shmias Ha’ozen – Listening of the ear” ie the ability to listen attentively.
In terms of dating, crucial to establishing any relationship and commitment is chemistry. Individuals can possess many of the same personality traits, interests, likes and hashkafa/life philosophies. But without chemistry, it is extremely difficult to take it to the next level of an engagement and life-long marriage filled with אהבה ואחוה ושלום ורעות – love, brotherhood, peace and friendship (virtues for maintaining Shalom Bayis).
Mastering one’s listening skills will significantly advance the ability to transform the potential of chemistry into actuality.