From the outset, let me caveat by saying that everyone listens differently. We listen for different things and different material resonates and catches our attention. Even within a single day, I may be listening for content, or feeling, or word play. It depends on both the piece itself and the space I’m in.
That said, I tend to listen for words and the way that they are strung together. Turns of phrase, the way something may catch me off guard. It’s where I also tend to focus my attention when I’m reading, too.
If I’ve had a powerful writing session and keep finding myself going back to the stress of sharing (or not), then that impacts my listening. I’m not able to sink in to the piece and accept it for itself. (Hm, this reminds me of what I’ve been reading about listening as a counselor, too.) I may revisit if and when I share if this is the case.
Being able to be present and listen as someone shares that newly born writing in writing classes is a gift. It requires me to take off my What I Know Ears and put on what I’m coming to know as my Curiosity Ears. Not what can I get out of this, but what am I experiencing? What am I noticing?
In part, this is another practice in awareness and compassion – just like sharing and feedback. Listening, too, is part of our practice, as much as the showing up for writing.
How do you approach listening? Where do you tend to focus your attention?