Just Listen! Really Listen (Carl Rogers)

If someone is important enough to have in your life, they should be important enough to listen to. If you act in a contradictory way, claiming they’re important while rarely listening, then the fault is yours when the relationship deteriorates for that reason.

Carl Rogers, a famous twentieth century humanistic psychotherapist once said,

“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have it.”

What’s the fear he’s talking about? It’s an irrational fear. It’s a fear of finding out that you’re wrong about something, or have missed part of the truth.

Too often, especially when in conflict, people assume that listening implies agreement. It implies no such thing. All it implies is a willingness to show respect for the thoughts and ideas of the person speaking. If they deserve no respect, then why are you in their company? Why is this person your friend, or even your romantic partner? It’s contradictory!

Never be afraid to listen. The worst that can happen is it will reinforce what you already know. The best that can happen is you’ll gain enlightenement, insight or additional context you had never thought of before. What’s so bad about that? Especially when coming from a loved one or any significant person in your life?


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