The Art of Listening

Many people lack talent in the art of listening. Does true, focused listening conflict with our natural self-centeredness, while complete confidence in one’s viewpoint, opinion, or solution comes naturally?

Parents work hard to instill confidence in their children; to inspire them to speak up, make their voice heart. And that’s what child development experts advise: kids should feel smart, capable, and beautiful.

But projecting outwards isn’t everything: only He knows all. So there is great value in stepping back and evaluating our confident “I know best” thoughts. Perhaps it is time for children and adults to switch the focus and listen to others. Because from listening…we learn, we grow, and we become closer to God.

It can’t hurt to make an attempt to listen.

Maybe someone is trying to let you in on the secret dessert diet that has a 100% success rate. Probably not, but it is possible to learn something from others, and they might even listen to you in return.

Even if you’ve been to Disney World, it’s likely that you haven’t heard every useful tip to save time in line. Try listening to your neighbor’s advice.

Your child has complained about the same “mean” kid at school…do you really need to hear the details again? Flip it: is it possible that your angel left out the part about throwing spaghetti at that kid?

And maybe your child, your friend, your spouse is complaining – but really they’re asking for help.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” – Psalm 143:8

To sharpen your listening skills, consider starting by listening to God. Begin with prayer – centering, listening, saying hello to Him. Read the Bible. Take a walk. Observe with all of your senses: God speaks to us in images, smells, sounds. What are you learning?

From there, work on listening to the humans in your life. Because listening to someone else’s story isn’t a waste of time. People have interesting opinions and information. Who can’t use a laugh from a funny anecdote? It’s growing yourself and your relationships…and if nothing else, it can be enjoyable.