Are you a good listener? Seriously, do you take the time and effort to really listen to those around you? I am sure if we were all completely honest, our listening skills could use an upgrade. I will be the first to admit that my skills are not always at peak performance.
We get distracted. We are too tired. We have had a long day and just want to veg. The reasons for not listening can go on forever. I know we won’t hit it out of the park every time, but our goal should be to at least get on base. What can we do? Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening, that is his folly and shame.”
Solomon points out to us the importance of listening before we speak. We have all been there. A story is being told to us, and a great solution comes to mind. What do you do? The obvious thing is to stop the person mid-sentence and offer your out of this world solution. You barely get it out, only to find out that you were way off base. And now the person is done with the story. And you both walk away filling dejected.
Sound familiar? Or is is just me? Or, maybe you were the one who was seeking someone to listen. So you can relate to that side of the story. Either way, listening is a major component of communication and is one that we can all improve.
James tells us, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Solomon and James are giving us a one two punch when it comes to the importance of listening.
Our first response when approached by someone needs to be listening. Really focus on what is being said and how it is being said. Ask questions for clarity. Once you have a good understanding, then you can speak.
And I love how James ends his statement with “and slow to become angry.” We need to keep our anger in check when approached by others. The person needs to be able to express their thought(s) without the fear of us getting angry and attacking them.
If we can get a better grasp on our listening skills, the influence we have with others will only get better. So the next time you are approached by someone who wants to talk, take a deep breath, collect yourself and say “I am listening.”