I don’t know exactly when it started or how it spread, but I’m sad to say even I’m infected.
And last night – it smacked me in the face.
Let me backtrack a little. Last week my husband and I were talking about the importance of listening and how rampant interrupting (and not genuinely listening) has become in our recent conversations with others.
To justify our frustrations, Chris and I exchanged stories of recent times when we realized that the person we’re talking to isn’t even listening. We admitted we’re both guilty of interrupting each other and committed to do our best to listen intently.
And don’t you know… while visiting with our family last night – it happened! Less than 24 hours later! As he was speaking, I carefully waited for the pause and began to interject my comment and BOOM! He barreled right over me! My mouth dropped to the floor, I planted one foot in front of the other and pointed at him, “You did it!” and he knew exactly what I meant as we chuckled at the mistake. That guy….
Oh yeah, that guy….. Ha!
Epidemics spread fast when you let your guard down. After laughing at my husband, I turned and began talking to my son who attempted to share a story about the kids he works with…. and POW! I heard myself cut him off… Less than two minutes after I had made a spectacle of my husband for cutting me off…… grrrrr. I was obviously not listening with my heart. And if you have sons you may understand how difficult it is to get them to talk in the first place! Now I understand what they mean by “eating crow.” That would have been better than how I felt as I begged for forgiveness for my offense.
Let me dare to bring this closer to home. How are you as a listener?
Think of a recent conversation, did you…
- Show impatience as you waited for them to finish speaking?
- Look around while the other person was talking?
- Suggest solutions before they fully explained the problem?
- Misinterpret what they said?
- Demonstrate with your body language that you were uninterested?
- Spend more time talking than listening?
- Allow your mind to wander, causing you to miss what they were saying?
It is a challenge to be engaged and stay focused.
Actually, all this verbal warfare with the constant interruptions can be quite comical. A short time ago, I was with some friends that have a gift to gab. Mistakenly, I thought I’d like to interject a valuable and encouraging comment. So I waited for a pause. One came. Ooops! I missed it! So, I waited… seized the opportunity, and shared my encouragement – Well, no that’s not exactly how it went.
As I began my comment, I was interrupted. Frustrated yet determined to express my inspiration for the benefit of the person I was attempting to encourage – I took a deep breath, and tried again. Once again, I was interrupted. Not to be outdone, I just kept talking… raising my voice a wee bit louder in my quest to win the verbal battle. Looking back, I chuckle at the ridiculousness of that! I did “win” but seriously who can make heads or tails of a conversation like that – much less receive encouragement?!Being a good listener is an integral part of any healthy relationship. Click To Tweet
Being a good listener is an integral part of any healthy relationship. And in this world of gazillion distractions, listening is a challenge that requires concentration.
Remember, we all feel valued when we are understood. Understanding requires listening to more than the words people say, it requires listening with your heart. When you listen with your heart an empathy is born that helps you reach out and touch the soul of the one you care about. And they know it.Understanding someone requires listening to more than the words people say. Click To Tweet
Here are some tips to becoming a good listener:
- Determine to talk less than you listen
- Ask pertinent questions to engage in the conversation and learn more about your friend
- Maintain eye contact, don’t allow your eyes to wander to what’s happening around you
- Let your friend get their thoughts out, then share your accompanying thoughts.
Don’t find yourself in my shoes – guilty of the same thing that irritates you!! Let’s learn to listen with our hearts and honor those that care to share their time with us.
And as Debbie says, in the comments below, let’s apply this to our relationship with the Lord. Listen to hear. Listen to understand. Listen to learn more about Him rather than tell him all that’s on our mind – He knows it anyway, doesn’t he?!
Another timeless truth in God’s word….
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