Resonant Listening


The angry young stockbroker

When the angry young stockbroker told his wife of a great deal he discovered on a fix me up beach house, she replied ‘we can’t afford it. We aren’t even putting money away for our 401k.’

In my office he practically foamed at the mouth as he told her that she ‘just doesn’t get him.’ “Why do you always have to be so bottom line?” he fumed. “Why can’t you just once look behind my words and hear my intention?”

She didn’t seem to get that. Instead she said that she was just worried about their finances (they weren’t getting any younger, she said) and dreams of a beach house didn’t look to her to be in their future.

“He’s a dreamer,” she sighed. “I’m the practical one. We fight all the time”

The angry young stock broker had tears in his eyes. He said he loved her more than anything, that he appreciated her frugality, that he understood they needed to attend to their overall financial health. Yet, he said, “sometimes I just don’t get to dream.” He told of how, when he drove down to the beach to look at the house, he could see them, on a weekend, cleaning it up together, making repairs, even beginning to decorate it. He said he pictured their family playing frisbee on the beach late in the day, the beach emptied of people by winter.

She looked over at me. “He’s a dreamer,” she sighed. “I’m the practical one. We fight all the time but I’m not sure we ever resolve anything.”

Resonant Listening – Sensing your partner’s inner world

We began to talk about our inner worlds. Resonant listening begins with getting a sense that your partner has an inner world and that it’s not always obvious. He or she resonates to certain dreams, certain deeply held values. Resonates is the word I want because it carries the idea of motion (inner motion) and tonality. We may look calm and appear unmoved when at the very moment our inner tectonic plates are shifting.

Resonant listening bends the ear a little closer, suspends, when possible, rational and sequential thinking (we can’t afford a beach house). Resonant listening tries to imagine what’s behind the persona and into ‘what’s cooking’ inside. Resonant listening is empathic. It’s imaginative. It isn’t diagnostic and isn’t trying to be right. It wants to get a sense of who the person is that’s talking as well as the emotion/ images/ passion that’s driving their intensity.

The angry young stockbroker full of inner commands to perform well in the business world, wanted to dream his way into an imaginal garden shared completely with his partner. His dream sailed entirely over the actual, the practical, the possible. But his dream was a gift left unopened.

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