“You are not listening. You don’t understand what I am saying.”
In some ways, the people who have said these very words to me — are right. Many times I don’t listen. Instead, I am thinking about what I am going to say next. Or, I am sizing up what their words convey. Or, I am deciding what to do when they are done speaking. Or, I’m thinking about what still needs to get done.
I can grow in hearing, listening and understanding others. At my worst, I completely miss what others are saying. When I try my best, I’ve — at times — even thrown out advice. None of these meet the needs of a heart.
And, what strikes my heart is — if I can’t hear mankind, how can I truly hear God? If I can’t understand the words of another person’s heart how can I understand the deep mysteries of God’s Word?
God wants to raise my bar on hearing, listening and understanding.
“…Let every person be quick to hear…” (Ja. 1:19)
What about you? Do you hear and understand or do you miss things?
Somehow, I think the greatest gift we can give others this season — is our ears. With all the competing voices, opinions and perspectives, what we most want is to be heard by those we love.
We want to be understood, at least — even if others don’t agree.
How do we do this?
Here are some practical ways to be a great listener:
One: Decide you will really hear what the other is saying, without allowing your mind to make a trail elsewhere.
Two: Choose to repeat back what the other person is saying, to make sure you captured their thoughts. Let them clarify, if need be.
Three: Clarify their response, ask questions and/or show interest.
Four: You don’t have to agree, but it can feel validating to someone to acknowledge their feelings. You do this by saying things like, “That must have been tough, “I can’t imagine how that would have felt”, “I get what you are saying.”
Five: Let them know that you appreciate their perspective.
These tips work if you are in arguments. The other person may not be right, but they can be loved and cared for along the way. They also work with contentious people. Likely, they want to be heard far more than they demand you agree with their ideas. They work with kids. Their eyes light up when they know that someone understands their unique perspective.
There is something healing, when people start hearing. Indeed, hearing takes humility, but God gives grace to the humble. You can do it!
Choose to be a hearer more than a speaker and you’ll find new connection with God and others.
***In other news, stay tuned…on Thursday I have some big news coming. I think it is going to bless you. I can’t wait to share it. Don’t miss this Thursday’s blog post.
Prayer: Father, help us to listen before we speak. May we trust you in all our ways and humble ourselves before you. Often this means we have to lay down our agendas, words and ways to see you come through. Thank you that listening clears a way for you, Jesus. We trust you to protect us, to lead us and to help us with all our words. In Jesus’ name. Amen.