The Art of Listening

TheArt ofListening

I just returned from an awesome weekend getaway with my sisters. We rented a house on the Mississippi, in Wisconsin. The fall colors were still hanging on, I got to sit and chat with my sisters, chocolate was consumed – it was great!

On a walk with one of my sisters, we got to talking about how people are. Both of us have had experience talking with people who obviously weren’t listening. She related about talking with her neighbor over the hedges. She said while she was in the middle of speaking, the neighbor suddenly pointed to another house and made a comment about the décor. As she finished telling me this, my sister spread her hands and wondered, “Did she actually hear anything I had to say? Did she care?”

I could have told several stories of my own, of exactly the same thing.

What is it with people? I understand interruptions – you’re listening, and suddenly something happens and grabs your attention away from the conversation and you blurt something out. Stuff like that happens.

But (too) often, you can tell from the other person’s eyes and body language that they just want to vent or just keep the topic revolving around themselves – or whatever. It’s more important for them to either say what they want to say, or think about what they’re going to say next. They don’t listen to or hear what you’re saying. They mow right over whatever you might want to talk about. They don’t care; it’s too all about them. All the time.

The world needs more listeners. Maybe the world needs more lessons on listening.

Listening involves your whole body. It takes time and energy. Lots of energy. Listening is hard work. It takes eye contact, attention, memory, linking new information to old information, head nodding, facial expressions, asking pertinent questions, appropriate (short) responses, encouraging body language, routing conversations back to the speaker’s topic, following and mirroring the speaker’s tone and mood, eyes that invite and accept and love, and a focus on the speaker (not on yourself).

We need to practice such techniques. If needed, practice in a mirror. Look at your facial expressions. As you practice, muse about people you know and what they like to talk about. Turn conversations to others. It’s okay to interject some of your own experiences and feelings, but always bring it back to the speaker (hint: you’re not the speaker – you’re the listener).

Listening takes caring. Caring takes love. If you don’t have love, talk to Jesus about it. He’s a really good listener.

24 thoughts on “The Art of Listening

  1. I needed this. To be honest, I might not be the one to interrupt to talk about me or the likes but I’ve caught myself very often these days zoning out during conversations and I’ve felt quite guilty about it. I’ll keep practicing. Thanks, Kathy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed how you taught a much-needed lesson by bringing in your personal story. This is something we all can improve on and I feel more prepared to listen more intently after reading this, thank you! Glad you had a wonderful time with colors, chocolate and family!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that some of it has to do with the world we live in now. We as humans are so very productive in our daily lives and the numerous tasks we take on in the name of being successful. I also believe listening is something most have to do on purpose. I noticed at my new work that no one ever just asks me how I’m doing. But they won’t stop talking if I ask them how they are.😆 good thing God has the listening thing down!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes, even if we don’t want to listen, it comes down to a matter of courtesy. And courtesy is going the way of landlines. 😕 But yes, listening must be intentional. We don’t have that courtesy or caring if we don’t have a heart quickened by God.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy, well-said. Listening is missing in today’s world. I am convicted by your words. In our family with four personalities and mom often behind the computer, listening needs to improve on all accounts. Thank you, Jesus, for your patience with us. Asking for Your help today, Lord, to dedicate energy to listening well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh how I have experienced this! For this very reason, I have tried to be more intentional in my listening. I really think cell phones are to blame in some of this. Somehow it has made us believe we can do a million things at once and therefore we sacrifice truly listening to one another……it makes me sad really. I am so thankful that my GOD listens to me!

    Liked by 2 people

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