Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meaningful Mondays: Learning to Listening

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We all have been around those people that will talk your ear off, stop, ask you a question and before you can answer they will finish your statement for you and go back to talking again.   They're so caught up in what they have to say that they only include you in the conversation because they'd look silly talking to themselves.  Trying to communicate with this type of talker is particularly frustrating.

{Shamefully raises hand.}

I'll be the first to admit I have issues with this.  I'm a nervous talker.  The more signals my brain sends my mouth to stop talking, the more I talk.  It's like watching a horrific train wreck and not being able to do anything about it.  Talking too much one of those things I would love to alter about myself, but unfortunately, I keep getting in the way of change.

The Bible, which is full of wisdom and common sense speaks a lot about talking and listening.  Here are a few of my favorite verses:
  1. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19.  How smart is this?  If we spent more time listening and less time talking, we'd solve a lot more problems and prevent a lot of misunderstandings.  Some people are natural listeners and the rest of us have work at it.  We have to really focus and try to put our own thoughts to the side while someone else is talking.  It's not easy, but I believe it is a skill that can be developed and nurtured. 
  2. Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.  Proverbs 29:20.  Here we are basically being told to think before we speak.  What a simple way to avoid all of those horrible foot in mouth moments that haunt us for days after they occur.  Before you speak, stop and think about how what you are going to say will affect others.  Are you speaking from pureness of heart or out of selfishness?
  3. He who answers before listening--that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13.  Have you ever played a trivia game with someone who tries to answer the question before the reader has finished asking it?   Most of the time they end up looking pretty foolish when the question is finally read and their answer is totally wrong.  Aren't we guilty of the same thing when we stop someone in the middle of their story to give our opinion even though we only have half of the facts!  This is one of the areas where I struggle the most.  Learning to let others finish their thoughts is such a seemingly simple solution if only we could put it into practice. 
God tells us over and over again how to be better listeners, but it is up to us to put our selfishness aside and really listen the next time we have a conversation.  We might be amazed by what we learn!

An extra little nugget:
D.J. Kaufman
"Wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening ... when you'd have preferred to talk."


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