Listening

by Robin Daniels, Instant Apostle, 192pp, £8.99

“Eloquence wins far more praise and prizes than its vitally necessary counterpart: the quieter qualities of patient, understanding, self-effacing listening.”

True enough. These words belong to the late psychotherapist Robin Daniels. The value we in the modern West attach to this skill has, he felt, been even further eroded by the rise of new technology, over-population and the increasingly frantic pace we live at. The world is “in a manic phase”. Listening is “one of speed’s victims”.

In Listening, Daniels advocates for the healing quality of listening. Being listened to well – that is, hearing one’s feelings spoken aloud, and then accepted and reflected back by someone else – helps a person “regard himself anew”. It can bring clarity where once was confusion – and from this comes “conviction, choice, decision”.

An unselfish listener sets an atmosphere: “open, unjudging, alert”. He is “a co-watcher at the growing edge of the client’s psyche”, with one aim only: “assisting the speaker to interpret self to self”. Salvation, however, “does not necessarily or always come in the form of solution”. Whatever resists cure will have to be “patiently endured – perhaps for the rest of one’s life”.

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