Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are you listening,I mean really listening?

Sometimes I feel the need to examine my life to see what kind of listener I am. Do I simply nod my head in agreement while not really hearing what is being said? Do I just give a tacit approval to comments without really allowing the other persons spoken word to penetrate my brain barrier?  Well, sad to say, I must answer in the affirmative, for so many times my listening radar gets turned off.

I'm an intense observer of people; noticing body language, how things are said, what specific words are used, and I pay particular attention if the other person is listening or just chomping at the bit waiting for their next round of mortar fire.

It seems that in our society and culture it is rally hard to have good quality conversation. Let me provide an example: The New York Telephone Company made a detailed study of telephone conversations to find out which word is the most frequently used. You have guessed it: it is the personal pronoun "I."  "I." "I." it was use 3,900 time in 500 telephone conversations. "I." "I." "I."

Think of when you are looking at a group photo, who do you look at first? bingo, you got it, yourself. It certainly seems it is in our nature to be self absorbed and consumed with the ME monster. How can we have friends, real friends, deep and meaningful relationships when we simply just try to impress people or get people interested in ourselves?

For anybody who has the time go to you tube and search Brain Regan's "me monster" and his comedy skit " I walked on the moon." If you don't crack a smile I promise to buy you dinner at your choice of restaurant, nah just kidding, but really check it out, it speaks to our topic and is extremely funny.

The "art of listening" is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to get good at it. Good listening skills like any other skill in life be it baking, cooking, athletics, or building a rocket ship must be practiced. We must become, and here is one of my favorite words, intentional. We must zero in and become determined that we are not going to be actively thinking about a reply, no, we are going to listen, really open up our hearts  and ears and listen to the other person.

As Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist wrote:

It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring

We can't presume to care for others if we don't listen. We can't presume to love others if we don't listen.

Let me share God's perspective on developing the "art of listening:"

  James 1:19 ESV 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger....

Proverbs 5:1 ESV / 

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding....

Proverbs 18:13 ESV 

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

The Bible is filled with admonition after admonition on being good listeners--do you think God knew that our
sinful tendencies are to focus on ourselves?

I need some feed back on this article for some future research. Share a personal story or reference any articles or books that you have read that were helpful in the area of communication.

Your Brother In Christ

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