How Do I Listen

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 in Interpersonal Skills, Leadership

dogHow Do I Listen?

How
Do I
Listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
Speaking to me
His
Cherished
Last
Words.
–Hafiz

Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī was a celebrated Persian poet, known by his pen name of Hāfez. In his poem, Hafiz, born in 1315, asks an ageless question — “How do I listen to others?” His response is a tall order – to listen “as if everyone were my Master speaking to me his cherished last words.”

Who among us can possibly listen that well? All the time?

And yet, another poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, has reminded us in her poem, “The Art of Disappearing,”

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.

To be that attentive and to be that present takes dedicated intention.

But what a gift of caring to listen so well!

Hafez’s question births more questions – How do you stay fresh, day after day, person after person, as though this could be the last time you talk to them?

How do you listen when you are tired at the end of a long day?

How do you create the almost reverent environment for people in your team, department, or community to listen to each other…as if last words were being said?

And conversely, how would you choose your own words if they were to be your last?

What is truly important in what you have to say, and about what do you truly care?

Reading Hafez’s poem on a regular basis is more than a useful meditation to sharpen your listening skills.

It’s a reminder to focus on what you care about.

Dog Image: Beverly & Pack

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