There is so much noise in our world – phones, computers, radio, pets, screaming kids. Not to mentioned our minds that are crammed full of the many projects that are all calling for immediate attention. With all the noise we can miss out listening to others. We hear, but we don’t listen. And sometimes, if we’re honest, we don’t even hear. All we see is lips moving. Ever been there? My wife has caught me there a time or two.
Listening happens when we stop what we’re doing, and give our full energy and focus in an effort to understand another. We’re not trying to get “ammunition” to respond as they talk. We’re trying to simply understand. That’s what people really want in the long run. It’s not about being right, or about winning. They want to know they were understood. Understanding another is like relational sunshine. It clears the fog, warms the environment, and helps things grow.
Listening is also the way we learn. Left to ourselves, our own ideas get old and stale. The people God brings along our path, even those that bug us, will have a great idea now and again. If we’re not listening, we won’t learn, and we will never grow.
Dr. David Schwartz writes in The Magic of Thinking Big, “The bigger the person, the more apt he is to encourage you to talk; the smaller the person, the more apt he is to preach to you. Big people monopolize listening. Small people monopolize talking…Top level leaders in all walks of life spend much more time requesting advice than they do in giving it.”
The Bible says in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”