It may not be from altruism that we allow ourselves to get pulled into another’s story. On the contrary, we may be operating from a position of resistance; from an attitude that other people need something from me and I need to sacrifice something of myself—time, energy, money—for them. With this attitude, I am essentially closed off to their truth, and am acting in the most expedient manner to get away. In actuality, when I listen completely to someone’s story, then I am open to her deeper truth, and when I open myself to that truth, then I am also opening myself to my own deeper truth. With complete, or deep listening, (at the other end of the continuum from shallow listening) the context for her words becomes an amalgam of BOTH her, and my, deeper truths. I let go of my truth as a static, immovable object (truth as a noun), and open to the possibility of my own growth and development (truth as a verb).
This type of listening is akin to the process of dialog. Essentially in dialog, neither party is involved in trying to convert the other to his cause. When someone is trying to do that, he is rigid and refuses to be budged. He does not wish to hear the other’s deeper truth, but rather convince her to disregard her own truth and accept a different, perhaps alien one. When I am in dialog, I am open to being emotionally moved by the other person’s pain; I am open to considering the world through her life and senses. I do not feel I have to change it, and I certainly do not have to accept the possibility of being emotionally violated. It does mean, however, that I am willing to entertain the possibility that life may involve a greater truth than either I or she is capable of portraying. And by opening up to hers, then I have opened myself up to a larger world and a more encompassing truth. In opening up to her truth, then I have allowed myself to becoming more enriched. [Excerpt, P. 9]