I thrilled at the following quote by Madeleine L’Engle because of its timeliness for me:
When the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand.
I’m on a quest. It’s been a longstanding goal of mine to be a good listener. So far, I’m a bit better at it than I was. However, I’ve noticed that whenever I have a self-improvement goal, the first thing that happens is I seem to get worse before making progress. I suspect it’s because I’m becoming more aware of my weaknesses and lack of skill in that area. Focusing on being a better listener opened my eyes before it opened my ears. Thankfully, I haven’t given up. I remember going through the one-step-forward-and-three-steps-back conundrum when I strove to be a more loving and respectful wife. Craving genuine growth is humbling. Desire awakens us. This is good.
Our intensified awareness of our needs propels us to improve. I imagine the accuser of the brethren hopes we’ll get discouraged and give up—especially if our desire is to be a better listener.
Listening leads to learning. Nowhere is this truer than when we listen to God’s Word and to the Holy Spirit. Listening means setting our own thoughts aside. It means entering the world of the speaker and being still. When we’re still long enough, the one speaking is given audience long enough to tap into deeper thoughts and ideas. Silence sets the stage for bigger words, rather than just small talk.
I’ve written several blog posts about what happens when we wait for five seconds of silence after someone has spoken to us. I have been blessed by the words of others when I do this. When we give the gift of deep listening, we are given the gift of intimacy with the speaker. Profound thoughts and revelations are conceived in silent pauses. Adventures happen in these wide-open spaces that otherwise would have been missed because we jumped in with our own words instead of waiting for five more seconds to hear what may be said next.
When we practice good listening, we make it safe for others to share their heart’s desires, their fears, and their true selves. That’s the power of listening.
I’m nosy-to-know if you would like to accept the dare to listen for five more seconds after someone speaks to you? Please let me know how it went.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, ... James 1:19 NIV
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
Five seconds is a long time. Even so, I try not to interrupt people. What I like to do is to nod or make some sort of noise to indicate that I heard the person and got the point. That seems to work for me. A few "hmms" here and there does help the conversation along.ReplyDelete
Bruce, I appreciate "A few 'hmms' here and there" from listeners. :)Delete
This is powerful stuff - "Focusing on being a better listener opened my eyes before it opened my ears." I agree with Bruce that 5 seconds seems quite long. They might think i wasn't listening at all! LOL! However, I get the point. STOP and take note of what you actually heard before spouting off an opinion!ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear Tracy. Yes, five seconds seems incredibly long. Usually the other person will start talking again before I reach 3 or 4 seconds. It's especially effective when the speaker is talking about an important subject. And even during small talk a conversation can grow deep. This happened to me at a public garden while listening to someone I didn't know. People love to be heard.Delete
Well put, Wendy. When I first met my husband, I found myself getting impatient with how long I had to wait for his answer when I asked him a question. Then I realized he was deliberating about his words before he spoke. And most often his words were wise. I have learned to appreciate this quality in him and try to emulate it in my own interactions. Being a good listener is almost a lost art these days, when most people have little time and would rather get their own stories told quickly rather than listen to others' stories. Blessings, my friend, on your "learning to listen" journey!ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear Valerie. It sounds like your husband and mine have the gift of wisdom in common. It's rewarding to wait for their words. But not easy. Yesterday, Ian smiled and asked me if I was counting to five because I was so quiet. I wasn't counting. I was waiting. He was talking about something that was important to him. It blessed my heart to discover I had practiced the 5 seconds of silence automatically.Delete
I agree that good listening "is almost a lost art these days." It's a worthy gift to give and receive. xo
Love your goal of intentional listening. I was recently diagnosed with tinnitus and the hearing specialist told me that people don’t start with hearing loss but with a lack of listening and paying attention. I found that quite fascinating. Thanks for your wonderful post.ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear Sharon, for sharing that interesting tidbit. I'm sorry about your tinnitus. You appear to be a good listener. Good writing is one of the fruits of paying attention. Blessings as you continue to hear and share.Delete
Hi Wendy! This is a great message. Forgive me, but I would say listening isn't "almost a lost art," but one our society needs to rediscover. I learned as a chaplain the skill of active listening is a must. When I led sessions for new volunteers in my long term care facilities listening skills were always on the schedule. If a volunteer couldn't grasp listening skills I would offer suggestions as to where their other skills might be of benefit. The art of truly listening is an expression of how much we care. I appreciate your approach and sensitivity to listening to people. Take care, my friend.ReplyDelete
Alan, how wise that you included "listening skills" on the volunteer training schedule. The elderly often have more wisdom to share than anyone else does. Much life experience has taught them much. Yes, listening is caring. :)Delete
Intentional listening! Yes! You'd think that at my age, I'd have learned this lesson. But my mind races to some sort of reaction from my own life that I'm quick to give or I simply ignore what they're REALLY trying to say. I am still learning to listen well. So, your post is a good reminder for me.ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear Connie. I've noticed from your devotional writing that you're gifted in listening to God and sharing what you've heard through writing. I suspect you're a better listener than you think.Delete
I'm staying enrolled in listening 101 for as long as it takes. It's so rewarding.
Thanks, Wendy, for your words of wisdom in giving people "the gift of deep listening." I'm preparing my heart and words to speak to a friend who keeps interrupting with her own stories. You've given me ideas and a way forward.ReplyDelete