A Brief Note on the Virtues of Listening

I believe listening is an undervalued yet highly important virtue.

Talking is easy. Relying on our prior beliefs, values, and what we think we know is easy. But listening is hard because it requires a great deal of mental effort and humiliation to acknowledge that one doesn’t have all the answers – that we might need to put ourselves on silent and listen to others for a better understanding of ourselves and our world. Listening is also hard because the things we hear from others often make us uncomfortable by exposing our own weaknesses and ignorances. We’ve been told to “like,” “comment,” “favorite,” and “retweet,” as if these things will lead us to true enlightenment and civil dialogue. But we’ve never been told to listen.

The best listeners have the greatest capacity for personal growth because they’ve freed themselves from the tyrannical prison of their own condescension and ignorance. When we listen, we get a little closer to understanding each other. When we listen, we convey respect. When we listen, we acknowledge the humanity of others.