The Art of Listening…….

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand – they listen with the intent to reply”. Roy Bennett.

My dear friend Claudia, actress and theatre director listening. – charcoal

I watched a superb episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ this week featuring Dame Judi Dench.

I have always enjoyed her as an amazing actress but what struck me during this programme was the way she listened so intently to whoever was speaking to her. She not only listened but also made constant eye contact.

Aged 86, I was struck with how beautiful she continues to be. So much of her beauty comes from her ability to be present for others using both her listening skills and her eyes to communicate.

My friend Charlotte fully present and listening…..

Tony is a therapist which means his life is all about listening to others. He and I have been good friends for a long time. It occurred to me after watching Dame Judi Dench, that one of the reasons Tony and I continue to be such good friends is because he is such a good listener.

I know how frustrating it is to be in the company of those who keep interrupting and so to have a friend like Tony is very special..

I am also fully aware that I don’t always listen as well as I should….but I work on it. When I find myself wanting to jump into the conversation so that I can be heard, I step back and stay quiet for a while. Not only does this give the conversation an opportunity to flow, but I inevitably end up learning something.

Tony – The Listener – oil on canvas

“Listen with your eyes as well as your ears” – Graham Speechley

In this portrait of my friend Fran – she is listening to the unseen energy surrounding her….Sometimes we don’t need someone talking with us to listen intently.

‘One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say’. Bryant H McGill

Patricia – French actress and such a wonderful listener.

I am a teacher and am very aware of how much is missed by not listening.

I would also suggest that putting aside all distractions – i.e. mobile phones is a very good first step to effective listening.

I hope you get to see the Dame Judi Dench – Who Do You Think You Are episode. It’s wonderful..

38 thoughts on “The Art of Listening…….

  1. Writing to Freedom

    I agree that listening is a special skill/gift that many of us need to practice more. Thanks for the reminder to offer the gift of listening with full presence Janet. Your paintings and words do a wonderful job of conveying your point.

  2. Content Catnip

    I love Judi Dench too and agree she’s very beautiful. I loved this piece Janet and you are right that beauty comes from listening that is such an amazing insight I never thought of it like this but you are completely right 😽

  3. davidjrogersftw

    IAfter watching Judi Dench perform over the years I have often commented to the person I’m with that she is the greatest facial actress there is. Her facial respones during dialogues tell you exactly what she is thinking without her having to utter a single word. That is talent and that is what every actor wants from the actor they are talking to.

    A problem I have is that my mind is too active for its own good and too filled with information that is dying to be expressesd,–which makes me talkative and less of a llstener, though I try. During the period my chidren were young my life was extremely busy and when they would come to me to tell or ask me somthing I was inattentive and brushed them off. But then I realized that all these little dear people wanted–and everyone else wants–is just to be heard. I slowed down and listened and they and I were hapier.

    Thank you for this lovely post Janet.

  4. Emma

    I really enjoyed this post. This line in particular: “Sometimes we don’t need someone talking with us to listen intently.” And the portrait of your friend listening to the energy around her. It is a beautiful show of respect to listen with the intent to understand. Something I am trying to work on as well. Thank you for posting!

  5. snowbird

    What a wonderful post with such beautiful portraits. I couldn’t agree more re Judi Dench, such a special person. This is a good reminder to me to work on my listening

  6. Jet Eliot

    I like to think I am a good listener, but I really appreciated this post as a gentle reminder that I can always improve on it. You’re right, Janet, listening with our eyes and ears is a valued skill. Great quotes too. I enjoyed all your sketches here and the personalities you bring to life in your portraits. I found the watercolor of Charlotte absolutely stunning, with the hair, shadows, colors, angle. Great post, Janet.

  7. timitownsend51

    I’m glad to have gotten back to your site, Janet. It’s been too long since I have been here. And what an important post! My only addition to what you have said and your lovely portraits is to say that being a good listener is not necessarily a gift. Instead it is something that can be acquired through work and practice, much like other skills. I hope that you have been well, Janet, and that you are happy and productive. May your magical hummingbirds surround you! –Timi


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