There is a reason why we were given two ears and one mouth according to a Philosopher named Epictetus; "so that we can listen twice as much as we speak"! How many times have you been told (or have said) 'you are not listening to me'. If I had a nickel for every time I heard or said that statement I would be a wealthy woman! Most of us if we are honest recognize that we need to work on our listening skills and be more attentive to the person who is speaking. Getting our point across has not resolved many conflicts, but listening well has helped to open many doors to reconciliation.
The greatest gift you can give someone is to stop talking and listen without judging and having any pre-conceived ideas about what the person is saying. This is very difficult to do, especially in the family between spouses and children. Being a good listener is not a skill we are born with. Rather, it is attribute that must be developed and practiced daily in order to be effective incommunicating with one another.
Two simple questions answered honestly can help you determine if you need to improve your listening skills.
- Do you find yourself biting your tongue impatiently waiting for the person to stop speaking so you can get your point across?
- Do you finish a person's sentence and/or interrupt while they are speaking? Now if you answered yes to one or both of these questions you need to work on listening better. But, fear not you are not alone WE ALL have work to do in this area. The first step toward change..... is having the self-knowledge and humility to change!
When we listen poorly to one another what usually happens is, 'what we think we heard' is very different then 'what was said' leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. If we could put aside our own needs and emotions for a moment and listen to one another we will open ourselves up to learn something new which could lead to the healing of broken relationships.
I believe God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason let us begin today to train them accordingly!