Karl Menninger? Brenda Ueland? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement about the enormous importance of listening attentively during conversations instead of simply talking is attributed to the psychiatrist Karl Menninger and the writer Brenda Ueland.
When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.
Do you know who should receive credit?
Quote Investigator: In 1941 Brenda Ueland published an article titled “Tell Me More” in “Ladies’ Home Journal” about the desirability of listening carefully to children and adults. She believed that most people were not sufficiently mindful of conversational partners. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. You can see that when you think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays.
This is the reason: When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weazens up and dies. Well, that is the principle of it.
Today, Brenda Ueland is best known for her self-help book “If You Want to Write” which has encouraged multiple generations of neophyte writers to express themselves. This work was first released in 1938, but its popularity grew through a series of reprint editions.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1941 November, Ladies’ Home Journal, Tell Me More by Brenda Ueland, Start Page 51, Quote Page 51, Column 1, Published by Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Verified with scans; thanks to University of Miami) ↩