Listening (31 July 2018)

In an article in The Times a couple of weeks ago, Monsignor Roderick Strange wrote about the influence of his former headmaster (Johnny) who had been the Provincial (or superior) of the Jesuits in Britain for many years. The following paragraph in particular interested me as a mediator:

‘At Johnny’s funeral, Bernard Parkin preached. He had been Johnny’s assistant during his years as provincial and there was a story he told that has stuck in my memory. One day they went to visit a couple who were deeply angry with the province for a number of reasons. On their arrival they were greeted politely, but coolly, and then the couple began to air their grievances. The tirade, as Bernard called it, went on for about half an hour and throughout Johnny listened, but said nothing. Bernard was amazed. Surely, he thought, Johnny would offer some defence. He didn’t. When they had finished, he just made a few conciliatory comments. And then Bernard realised that the couple’s anger had evaporated and friendship had been renewed. They had been listened to with respect. Attentive, respectful listening had brought healing. It was striking, after Johnny had died, how many people referred to his capacity for listening. Relationships that reveal respect for others are invaluable.’

The complete article can be read here.