I haven’t met too many people who would say they don’t think listening is important. I have met alot of people who don’t act like listening is important. If we all know that it is important to listen to others, why do we have such a hard time doing it?
I’ve been thinking about some of the things that keep us from really listening to others.
(Again, help me out…see if you can think of some more.)
1.) We talk too much. We don’t give the other person a chance to share. By the time the other person is done listening to us, they are too tired to say anything about themselves. (Besides, we might be too interested in ourselves to listen to what’s happening to them.)
2.) We talk too little. We don’t ask enough good questions to draw information out of the other person.
3.) We are too focused on what the other person thinks of us to think much about how we can serve them. We’re thinking about ourselves so much that we don’t really pay much attention to the other person.
4.) We are not all that interested in the other person as a person. We’re thinking more about what we can get out of them or how they can help us.
5.) We make getting things done a greater priority than loving others. We use our “busyness” as an excuse for not taking the time to really hear someone out.
6.) We like what we like and when someone is talking about something that really isn’t something we like, well, we don’t care enough about them to try to learn about what they like. If something is boring to us, then we think it’s not worth listening to.
7.) We don’t think of listening as an act of service. We think, I’ve got to pursue my own pleasure and if this conversation isn’t the ultimate in pleasure, I need to cut it off and go do something that brings me more pleasure as quickly as possible.
8.) We assume that we know all that we need to know without the other person giving us more information.
9.) We read into things that people are saying without doing the hard work of figuring out what they really are saying. We assume that because we mean one thing when we say something, they must mean the exact same thing by it, when it could be that they don’t.
10.) We don’t focus. We allow our minds to run down a thousand different paths rather than being self-controlled and focusing on the other person.
11.) We think if we say something one way then other people should say it the same way and if they don’t then they shouldn’t expect us to listen. For example, we think if we don’t use that many details in our conversation then other people shouldn’t use that many details in their conversation and if they do use too many details in their conversation they can’t expect us to actually pay attention as they talk about all those details.
12.) We’re so focused on what we are going to say next that we don’t hear what they’re saying.
13.) We want to “win” the conversation. We want to show the other person how smart we are, how much we know, sometimes how much better we are than them.
I’d encourage you to think this week about the impact the gospel should have on the way you listen to others. If we have truly died to self and been made alive with Christ, that should make an impact on the way we go about having conversations with others!