Listening without evaluation

Silence by Philip Dodson

A wise person said ‘the highest form of intelligence is to be able to listen without evaluation’.

We all seek to be understood and to be able to listen empathetically is a challenge.

The key to it is being able to be disconnected from our mindstreams and that requires us to be conscious and present in the moment.

When we are awake, we simply witness our thoughts and do not energise them, that means there is space to listen, without the mind wanting to reply, fix, show off that we know the right advice, tell our story, which the person we are listening to doesn’t want to hear. They want us to listen and understand them.

Listening is not a pause for us to prepare our next sentence, it is a space to hear and without judgement be fully aware of the other person’s words and to attempt to understand them.


The world is becoming completely disconnected in what is supposedly the most technologically connected time for the human race. We have more digital connections than ever, yet we are total strangers even to our neighbours. We’ll take a picture of someone in trouble and post it to the internet before helping.

The reason we are becoming completely disconnected is that we hear the hate, the fear, the news, the message, we judge, we blame and so on. We are sucked into the vortex of the online world, even at the cost of ignoring family, friends, and people in general.

But we do not listen and therefore we fail to understand each other. Hearing the noise is different from understanding it.

If for a moment we leave our bubble, if we listen to others instead of ranting, if we stop making noise and choose to understand and empathise with others, then we will discover what we have in common not what we can hate in the others.

We can only connect once we discover what we have in common and surprisingly we all have something in common, even if that is just that we will all die one day. However, there are many, many more things that we share with others, but we simply do not understand. We all have the ability to love, to be kind, to support, to empathise, to be compassionate.

We could choose to listen and connect, there is only upside from such a choice.