I said to myself: "He has been under a driving pressure for years. His family has grown to resist his talk. But now, by listening, I will pull it all out of him. He must talk freely and on and on. When he has been really listened to enough, he will grow tranquil. He will begin to want to hear me."
And he did, after a few days. He began asking me questions. And presently I was saying gently:
"You see, it has become hard for you to listen."
He stopped dead and stared at me. And it was because I had listened with such complete, absorbed, uncritical sympathy, without one flaw of boredom or impatience, that he now believed and trusted me, although he did not know this.
"Now talk," he said. "Tell me about that. Tell me all about that."
Well, we walked back and forth across the lawn and I told him my ideas about it.
"You love your children, but probably don’t let them in. Unless you listen, you can’t know anybody. Oh, you will know facts and what is in the newspapers and all of history, perhaps, but you will not know one single person. You know, I have come to think listening is love, that’s what it really is."
Well, I don’t think I would have written this article if my notions had not had such an extraordinary effect on this man. For he says they have changed his whole life. He wrote me that his children at once came closer; he was astonished to see what they are; how original, independent, courageous.
His wife seemed really to care about him again, and they were actually talking about all kinds of things and making each other laugh.
Reflect on this story, it is truly amazing what simply listening can do.