A few years ago, I was talking with the lead instructor in a counseling refresher course. We were paired together for a simple exercise in listening. Within just a few minutes, I found myself moved to tears. I wondered why?
Over this past weekend I was sharing with my wife and once again teared up. Why?
Because I was being heard. They were REALLY listening!
I spend most of my life listening to others and their concerns. I don’t begrudge that all. I want to listen to others. I know how important it is to listen and listen well. It’s one of the most powerful ways to love.
When it comes to my experience, no one in my life listens better than my wife. It feels SO rich and good that it can bring me to tears. She strengthens me.
The truth is, we all want to be listened to. How many times have we heard someone say: “would you please listen?” We wouldn’t talk unless we thought or hoped someone was listening. We long to be heard, understood and validated.
Unfortunately, we often don’t listen to others as well as we want them to listen to us.
Sometimes we are too preoccupied to listen well…or more focused on what we want to say than what the other is saying. In conflict, we often listen only long enough to build our case. Then we jump in the first chance we get.
When this happens, the other person feels completely missed. Before long they will either look for their own opportunity to steal the conversation back again, or simply give up trying and grow bitter. Then we wonder why we can’t communicate.
Train yourself to be intrigued. The person talking to you is thinking and feeling what they are for a reason. Rather than telling them they are wrong or that they shouldn’t feel that way, be intrigued. Wonder aloud. What is causing them to feel or think that way? Ask them. Listen some more. Then ask even more and listen further.
There is a proverb (20:5 NLT) that says: “Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.”
There are things going on deep inside each of us that may only be discovered if someone takes the time to draw it out of us in order that they might understand. I can’t tell you how important this is!
In my observation from thousands of hours of counseling, the number one reason why conflict escalates is we truly don’t listen well to each others perspective when it comes to resolving conflict. We must listen well enough to hear each others heart…to learn and discover their perspective on things–why they did what they did and felt what they felt. When we do, it nourishes the relationship and paves the way for healthy conversation.
If you want to experience good communication in your marriage, with your children, with a friend or even co-worker, be intrigued with what they say and practice drawing them out. Sometimes it is as easy as saying: “Can you tell me more?” Other times, ask them to explain why they used a certain word or why they said what they did the way they did. You might be surprised how much your spouse shares if you just stay quiet and listen!
Think a minute: don’t you want people to do this for you? Don’t you want your spouse or your friend to listen to you without interrupting? To ask you more so they might really understand all that is going on inside you? Then do unto others as you wish they would do unto you!
When you do, you will be well on your way to establishing a deeper connection and greater intimacy in your marriage. You will communicate to your children how much they are loved and valued. You will be known as a friend of all friends.
Who is your best listener? What is the impact on you when someone listens well? Will you share a comment below?