Author, priest and professor Henri Nouwen wrote this about the practice of listening: “To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
“Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.”
What a beautiful way to look at such a fundamental interaction – to reframe listening as more than simply acknowledging another, but extending to them a spiritual gift of hospitality – welcome and acceptance. As coaches, the best value we can provide to our clients is our undivided, fully present attention, in order to help them “start taking their own words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is at the heart of any transformational relationship and I believe that – coach or not – by truly listening to others – by extending our spiritual hospitality unreservedly and unconditionally – we can change the world.
With whom will you share the gift of your spiritual hospitality today?