Sunday, September 8, 2019

How to be a Winning Listener


Hearing is Sounds in the Ear
Believe it or not, hearing and listening are two different things. Hearing is a basic physiological response. Sounds waves stimulate auditory nerves in your ear and you perceive sounds.

Listening requires more from you. While hearing sounds you make a conscious effort to get meaning from them.

When I think of hearing, I think of the popular Verizon commercial with the man moving around while saying, “Can you hear me now?”

Ducks Hear, Too
Our family used to kid Dad a lot about being deaf. When we would say something, he would often say, “What?” We would repeat it only to find out he had heard us; he just hadn’t listened for the message.

Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer of the Rite of Spring, said, “To listen is an effort . . . just to hear is no merit. A duck hears, also.”

So, let’s think about this.

People enjoy talking to someone who is really engaged with what they are hearing. Some would refer to them as “active listeners.” They might exhibit traits such as these:

1)  They listen carefully and speak in a meaningful moment. Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) says, “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

2)  They listen for the meaning behind the words. This is why therapists often give feed back and ask if they have heard correctly.

3)  They accept the speaker’s emotions, concerns, or experiences. Though they may not agree or fully understand, they allow the speaker to be real.

4)  They ask open-ended questions to draw out further understanding. Questions answered with a simple yes or no may not be enough.

5)  They ask permission to share a possible solution. It is a privilege to speak into someone’s life and unwanted advice is rarely heeded.

Be a Winning Listener
It’s not always easy to be an active listener. Sometimes we might become angry. Or because of hurt feelings, we would love to lash out or argue our position.  

If so, give yourself a reality check. No one is able to go through life without ever being misunderstood. Pressured as you may feel, try to remain calm.

The Apostle James had three words of advice: 1) be quick to listen, 2) be slow to speak, and 3) be slow to get angry (James 1:19, (NLT). 

Winning listeners learn how to do all three.

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