The Art of Unselfish Listening, Episode 118

What does it take to really understand one another, especially when what separates us can seem so great? What if it takes a bold act of unselfishness – setting aside our ordinary, rigid ways of listening and being prepared to encounter the unknown while simultaneously doing all we can to make it safe for the person speaking to speak? A conversation about a wild, courageous way to listen to friends, lovers, family, colleagues and those with whom we disagree most profoundly, with Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

This is Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by Thirdspace in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living. Find us on FaceBook to watch live and join in the lively conversation on this episode. We’re also on YouTube, and as a podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify.

Here’s our source for this week:

The Art of Unselfish Understanding

Drawing on his half-century practice as a therapist, Erich Fromm offers six  guidelines for mastering the art of unselfish understanding:

1. The basic rule for practicing this art is the complete concentration of the listener.
2. Nothing of importance must be on his mind, he must be optimally free from anxiety as well as from greed.
3. He must possess a freely-working imagination which is sufficiently concrete to be expressed in words.
4. He must be endowed with a capacity for empathy with another person and strong enough to feel the experience of the other as if it were his own.
5. The condition for such empathy is a crucial facet of the capacity for love. To understand another means to love him — not in the erotic sense but in the sense of reaching out to him and of overcoming the fear of losing oneself.
6. Understanding and loving are inseparable. If they are separate, it is a cerebral process and the door to essential understanding remains closed.

Photo by Wiebrig Krakau on Unsplash