I Have Learned the Value of Listening (9)

cup_a_hot_joe.gifI have learned the value of listening.

A number of years ago, I was in a gathering of people and recall one particularly frustrating moment.  I was trying to express my view about a certain matter to the group and at one point had difficulty completing a sentence without being interrupted by one particular person.  I remember backtracking, trying to regroup, after experiencing several interruptions by this person.  I recall how frustrating the experience felt.  I felt as if the person really was not listening.

I suspect most of us know that feeling.  You are trying to get a point across and you don’t think the other person is really listening.  You are talking and sense that the other person is more concerned about getting his own view across.

And yes, I have done this as well.  I have interrupted my wife and have interrupted my children.  At times, I will catch myself doing this and think about how frustrating it must be to be on the other end of this conversation.

I do, however, really want to be a good listener.  There is something about really listening to another person that leaves that person feeling heard and valued.  There is something about listening that causes a person to feel some kind of connection with the other person.  Listening has a way of strengthening and enhancing relationships whether there is agreement between the two people or not.

One of my favorite lines from Stephen Covey’s bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is "Seek first to understand and then to be understood."  There is something very important about genuinely seeking to understand what someone else is saying instead of thinking that the whole objective of a conversation is to get my point across.  Listening to another is not a communication technique.  Rather, it is a part of valuing another person in a relationship.

Listening really does enhance relationships.  When I listen or when I feel as if I have really been heard by someone who is engaged in a conversation with me, it seems to build and strengthen our relationship.  This is true whether we actually agree or not.

Do you have a good listener in your life?  What are some of the qualities of that person that make him/her a good listener?

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18 thoughts on “I Have Learned the Value of Listening (9)

  1. I was blessed with a dad that was perhaps the best listener I’ve ever known.  A real boon for a shy, introverted child!  I learned much about the value of listening from him.  It is, as you said, something that makes one feel valued and strengthens the connection in a way that nothing else can.
    I have found that really good listeners are few and far between, and I usually find myself in the role of listener rather than the one being listened to.  I do have one friend I’ve know since we were children and she is that kind of listener.  I am fortunate to now live in the same neighborhood she does and we walk together 3 mornings a week.  Another is a cousin my same age.  I don’t get to see or talk to him very often, but through the years I have found him to be a receptive and affirming presence.  You, Jim, I would also number among the good listeners I have known.  I think that is one of the qualities that makes you an effective minister.
    Thanks for this topic today.  A good reminder as I go about my day!

  2. It is frustrating to be interrupted, and to other when we interrupt. To listen is one thing … to actually hear is another. We spent a lot of time in grad school (counseling) learning to listen and hear. Good thoughts, Jim.

  3. I have a friend named Ed. He’s a great listener. First he hears me, and then he gives me honest feedback. He doesn’t play the game of just reflecting back to me what I want; sometimes he tells me what a knucklehead I am.   : )
    BTW, our failure to listen to God gets us in to big trouble. We don’t listen to Him for the same reasons we might have trouble listening to others; i.e., we have too much to say and think we already know all the answers.

  4. I agree with Greg; often listening is not the same as understanding. Often I will politely listen even though I’ve predetermined what to say and what to believe. (Something I’m working hard to get rid of!) That’s why I admire my dad; he listens, understands, and offers biblical advice. Hopefully I’ll see you at GodblogCon. 

  5. My husband, Tom, has always been the best listener I know.  He always takes the time to be still and to really listen and hear, not just pass things off.  He pays close attention without interjecting and has always been my best friend, ever since I first met him, which was about 12 years before we were married.  I consider myself very lucky to have him.Thanks for the good post.  The latest good one of many.  I read you all the time.Dee  

  6. I don’t have any listeners in my life.  I guess that’s why I blog.
    So, did you do anything to stop the interrupting person in the group or did you just let them keep interrupting?

  7. It is interesting to consider what listening looks like. For my spouse, it looks like silence. For me, it looks like speech. Not constant speech, but periodic assent and questions. Our differences are rooted in culture, family and personality. The challenge for me is to try to adjust my listening style based on the style of the person who’s speaking to me. Sometimes I’m more successful than others!

  8. Greg–Thanks for your words.  I also appreciate your reminder that not only does it feel frustrating when we are interrupted but it also feels very frustrating for another when we interrupt as well. 

  9. Ben,Your friend Ed sounds like a real blessing to you.  I like your words regarding listening to God.  You are so right.  We do fail to listen to God for the same reason that we fail to listen to others.Thanks. 

  10. John,Thanks for the reminder that listening is more than just paying attention to the sounds coming out of another’s mouth.  Your dad sounds like a good listener. 

  11. Hi Dee,Good to hear from you.  Thanks for the kind words.What a gracious statement to make regarding your husband!  I especially like what you say regarding his willingness to pay close attention.  I want to remember that.

  12. Shark Girl,As I recall, I was talking about something that was very important to me.  I did not want my frustration over his interuptions to become the focal point and lose the opportunity to communicate about this other issue.At one point, I finally said.  "If you all don’t mind, I want to capsulize what I have been trying to say and then I will be happy to clarify or answer your questions."  (Or something close to that)

  13. L.L.,This has never occurred to me–at least not in the way you express it.  Very helpful.  This is so true.  We do have different listening styles and the challenge is to adjust.Thanks for a very good comment.