Open your mouth
only if what you’re going to say
is more beautiful than silence
- Arabic Proverb
That’s a pretty straightforward and significant quote isn’t it? Very similar to
“if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all”. Which I’m sure we’ve all heard at some point in our life.
To be careful not to intrude or invade someone’s peace will always be sacred practice to follow. It’s also not always easy to practice. Especially for those of us who are quick to hand out unsolicited advice or challenge every perception we hear.
So, if you often catch yourself “half listening” because you can’t wait to speak, or if you’re notorious for interrupting a person midway through their speech to speak (my biggest pet peeve ever!!);
its time to learn a new way - Listening with compassion.
When you listen with compassion, you’re giving the speaker a chance to suffer less by allowing them to empty their heart. Without interruption, or judgement, or advice.
If you want to help him or her to correct their perception by giving advice or sharing your perspective, stop yourself. Wait for another time.
But for this present moment, you practice listening with compassion to help them suffer less.
That key phrase will always drive my awareness - “practice listening with compassion to help them suffer less”.
I came across this practice of listening with compassion by watching an old “Super Soul Sunday” episode this past Sunday featuring Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and peace activist. I felt compassionate listening will be a good practice to consciously apply and share with others, especially now that we’re in the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month.
“You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion”. - Thich Nhat Hanh
Be more eager to learn and understand a person's suffering and less eager to fix them. Your compassionate listening is helping more than you know.