Connection by Deanne Quarrie


DeanneAs an introvert, I do a lot of listening. However, I have noticed that when I am in a group and think I am listening, quite often I have tuned out and am lost in my own thoughts. That doesn’t happen nearly as often when I am with one person, sharing in conversation.

Clearly there are times when I am with someone who is a “talker” and our conversation is mostly a monologue. I find this need to talk comes either from being alone most of the time or from not being listened to by anyone. So when I care about someone, I simply listen as they rattle on. Pretty soon however, the pace slows down and the content of the conversation takes on substance and if we are lucky, a true conversation can begin. If it doesn’t, then at least the other person who needed to be heard got a chance.

There are other conversations that we can have that we might call discussions. In these two or more people tackle a subject, tear it apart, analyze it, chew it up and finally spit it out. The whole idea is to analyze the subject, look for answers, agreements or results. These discussions can be extremely stimulating.

Then, there is what we call a dialogue. You might think that discussion and dialogue are the same thing but in truth, dialogue happens in a uniquely different way. The meaning of the word dialogue is “words flowing through.” This is really very different from discussion. Here we have a completely open-ended exploration where all parties enter with the spirit of inquiry. A discussion is something that arises out of the intellect and a dialogue comes straight from the heart.

We can see the difference quite easily if we look at how we might approach a conversation about a truly “difficult” subject, one that has many emotional triggers for the people involved. If this is the case, discussion would build walls between them, when dialogue offers the hope of true understanding.

Listening to another is for most, a learned skill. Listening and truly hearing can be the most valuable gift we can give another. Listening involves letting go of the need to speak, the need to counter, the need to give advice, and asks us to simply be open and to  receive what another needs to say to us. It requires that we become still. We suspend our judgments and assumptions, and listen to understand rather than agree.

Certainly, in this process of listening, we can offer acknowledgement of what is being said along the way but we don’t take away the conversation from them. We give of ourselves in this way to allow the other to unfold. For me this is “heart listening.”

I have found, for myself, that this kind of listening becomes a gift for me as well. When I can open myself in this way to another, my soul is able to touch their soul in a sacred communion of being.

When I deeply listen to you
it is as though
all the walls I have built around myself
disappear.
That space between us
no longer exists
as a boundary between strangers.

The oneness of who we are
and the whole of who we are
Create new patterns of being.
When I deeply listen to you
Understanding and a deep knowing
of our shared experience
connects me to you in a way that is holy.

 

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Wicca, European Witchcraft and Druidic Shamanism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

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Categories: communication, General, Relationships

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18 replies

  1. “To have in this uncertain world some say
    which cannot be undermined, is
    of the utmost consequence.”
    Thus wrote
    a woman, partly brave and partly good,
    who fought with what she partly understood.
    Few men about her would or could do more,
    hence she was labeled harpy, shrew, and whore.

    ~Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law
    Adrienne Rich

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  2. Thank you, Deanne! Listening is SO important. We should have classes in schools about how to do it. Many people have no clue how to listen to each other.

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  3. Thanks for an interesting new topic, Deanne. I linked my name here to a photo I once took while talking to a wild goose. I will never ever forget the experience!!

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  4. Thank you so much for this post, could not have come at a better time for me, something I really needed to hear.
    We talk so much about freedom of speech and the importance of speaking out, but we forget to value listening. And as you so well describe, there are many characteristics of poor and high quality listening. I don’t believe it is possible to have a truly open society until the value of the patient, non-violent listener is prized.

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  5. Deanne, very good! Brava! You’re certainly right that sometimes what appears to be a conversation is really a monologue. Sometimes it’s really two monologues that sort of run together. And, yes, it’s best when the monologues run down and a true conversation begins. I bet everybody has been in all these situations, but you’re the one who clarified them today. Thanks.

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  6. Deanna, your first paragraph left me feeling the comfort of knowing I’m not alone! Your second teaches me a way to relate to a neighbour who is the most “extroverted” person I’ve ever met! And the rest of your post is just plain good advice for good relationships with others – including geese.

    Thank you!
    and Sarah, I’ll look at the geese here in a totally different way!

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  7. This is beautiful – thank you so much. You provide a lovely way of understanding how discussion, dialogue, and deep listening (what I once read that the Australian aborigines call “dadirri” … love that word) are interwoven. When I I visit my mom — who lost her soulmate, best friend and partner 7 years ago when my dad died — my practice is indeed one of deep listening and, lately, I’ve noticed that we occasionally move into dialogue. Dialogue has always been rare between us (I’m extremely introverted; she’s very extroverted, and our historical relationship a difficult one), so this is a precious gift. You helped me really see into the difference between the ways we communicate, and I love this: “discussion would build walls between them, when dialogue offers the hope of true understanding.” Blessings!

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  8. The idea of discussion versus dialogue came to me several years ago when I attended a weekend retreat for the purpose of Interfaith Dialogue. The weekend itself was delightful in that presentations were made by several different spiritual traditions. Difficulty arose however when we broke up into splinter groups for the actual dialogue. Most people seem to be all about “discussion” in these groups and it became evident to me that the “privileged Christian mindset” built barriers to true dialogue and put up walls of resistance to the point they were unable to listen to what was being said by those who fell into non-privileged groups. What triggered one such incident was my suggestion about the possibility of searching for universal terms that we could begin using in our dialogue because insisting on only using Judeo-Christian terminology was building barriers whose languaging was different. My desire was to see barriers dissolved so that we could really dialogue with each other and gain better understanding. When you are of a non-privileged faith you spend your entire life “translating” to the privileged language. To achieve true dialogue we needed to take down the need to oppress those of the non-privileged group. They were adamant, however, in their insistence of using only their terminology because they were the majority. It became clear to me that they were not ready for true dialogue.

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