As I wrote in my last post – Feeling Lonely – Maybe You’re Not Listening Pt 1 – we are born selfish. Two of the things we naturally care about most are ourselves and people talking about us. We are our own favorite topic.
We have to train ourselves to be better listeners because our own selfishness gets in the way. Without even having to think we make some relational listening errors that can be very hard on, and even fatal to relationships.
If you want to improve your listening skills you need to become aware of some listening weaknesses most people have. It’s difficult to recognize our own weaknesses. You can start off by thinking about how you feel when people are obviously not listening to you. If you are brave enough, tell your spouse about these listening problems and ask her to grade you. Then be quick to listen and slow to speak when she tells you.
It really doesn’t matter how good of a listener you think you are, it’s what the one you are listening to thinks that counts.
I think there are three listening problems we have that come naturally.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. Prov 12:15
First I think pride in our self makes it difficult to listen and devalues the person to whom you are listening . Most of us like to think we are the smarter of the two so we don’t think we need to hear what others have to offer. We think controlling the conversation helps make that happen so asking the other person questions is out of the question.
The Bible teaches us that we can pick up some deep wisdom from others (Prov 20:5) and we should be asking questions.
Are you a learner? I have found that I can learn something from anyone. That helps me be a better listener.
The second listening problem we have is we tend to presumptive listeners. Don’t you hate it when someone is always trying to complete your sentences or think he knows what you are thinking?
Here is the deal. Everyone does not think like you do. As a marriage counselor I counseled people all the time who thought there was something wrong with their relationship because the spouse did not see it the way he or she did.
Give value to the way the other person in your relationship thinks. Your spouse, kid, boss, employee and next door neighbor is not you. We are wiser when we have the benefit of the view of others.
The third listening error we make is that we tend to listen impatiently.
How hard is it to be patient and listen? For most of us it is hard to listen patiently. Experts tell us that the average mind can listen to about 650 words a minute. But the average person speaks about 150 words a minute.
If you don’t practice patience, you stop listening way before the person talking is finished. No wonder she thinks you think what she says is not important.
Do you know someone who lacks listening skills and you feel devalued because he listens pridefully, presumptively, or impatiently? It takes the fun out of talking to that person doesn’t it?
There may be some important people in your life that feel devalued because you make these listening errors.
If you have the courage … Ask for a grade.
Question: Is being a good listener difficult for you? Can you see some of these listening errors in family and friends? How does it make you feel about them, or yourself?
In the third and final part of “Feeling Lonely – Maybe You’re not listening” we will look at how to adjust the heart attitude so you will be ready to listen and hear.