Compassionate listening through storytelling

Listening to a story can connect the listener to the deeply fulfilling experience of compassionate listening, healing past hurts and validating the feelings of another and thus develop an important life long skill.

We rarely have the experience of being deeply heard by others. Most of the time, others tune out while we speak. When we can listen to others, especially in deep, intractable conflicts, we learn about ourselves and our capacities for positive good. When we are listened too, we feel honest respect and appreciation. Conflict cannot exist in such an environment and harmony flourishes (Noll, 2003).

Nicole Pugh reports: Deep or compassionate listening is a skill promoted by many spiritual and peace-building leaders, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thich Naht Hanh, Marshall Rosenberg and Leah Green of the Compassionate Listening Project. Since 1999, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Naht Hanh has sponsored groups of Palestinians and Israelis to come to Plum Village, his global community and retreat centre in the south of France, in order to dialogue in the name of peace. Through learning the skills of deep listening and communication, these participants are able to heal from the intense emotions that have built up inside of them.

Pugh interviewed Bonnie Mansdorf, daughter of a holocaust survivor, who is founder of A Healing Among Nations, Mansdorf adds: I think one of people’s greatest yearnings is for their voice to be heard and for their gift and their wisdom to have a place to be released. [With] the skill of deep listening, you allow them to experience who they are from that place because first they feel your interest. This shifts the space tremendously when somebody feels that you are there for them and you are interested in them.

A child can begin to develop the skill of empathetic listening by listening to and telling stories.

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