I want to understand what you are saying …

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Communication. This seems like the biggest problem in all relationships. At least to me especially now when I am writing this. Many people are talking about communication and how it has affected the different areas of our lives. The boss will say the employees are not communicating enough about progress and therefore feels out of the loop of what is happening in the company. The employees will say the same thing. The wife will say, “my husband doesn’t tell me what he is thinking and often does things without telling me”. Others will say, “I don’t like how you said what you said” or “I can’t believe that she said that about me”.

As for myself, being a very observant person, I would then ,almost always, analyse the facial expressions what one would use when saying something to me. I guess I read more from the actions than the words. Sometimes I would even take note of where the pauses are when someone tells me something.

It gets weirder, there are times I would receive an SMS from someone and I would play out what they said and how they said it. I would fill in the rising and falling intonations, the pauses and possibly the facial expressions I think the person I am talking to would use. I think because of this, I struggle to forgive and forget. My gift has become a possible curse :(.

It is said, “The biggest part of conversation is listening“. I know this fact. I love this fact. So in conclusion, I think people should listen to me :). True, but I should also listen to other people, Truer. I once had a heated ‘discussion’ with a friend. One could call it an argument. ‘But discussion’ sounds more civilised and I like to think of my spades as spoons. But the truth is, the conversation was one where we stepped on each other’s toes. Most of what was said was said in anger and without consideration of what the other person would feel. For a moment, courtesy was thrown out the window and “being real” was at play. At the end of the day, we poured out our hearts. But the truth is, the heart seems to be a bottomless pit and no amount of pouring and speaking can empty it of its contents.

After having this sort of argument, I then realised a few things. Listening is a lot more than just hearing what the other person says. It requires of us that we seek to understand why the person said what they said, how they feel about what they said and where they are going with what they said. Maybe I am asking a lot of myself and of you as a reader. But this is how I have understood listening thus far. When someone speaks, especially where conflict is present or imminent, they desire above all to be understood and to be empathised with. But unfortunately with most conflict resolution that I have been involved with most of the parties simply want to offload what they have in their hearts and don’t desire to truly understand what the other party thinks and feels about the issue under discussion.

I am reminded of this portion of scripture.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:2:1-4 NKJV

I believe listening with a desire to truly understand the other person obeys the command we are given here “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others“. At least listening forms a big chunk of understanding the interests of the other person. We can also say that if we do not do proper listening then we do not care as much as we should for the interests of others. Imagine an argument whereby while the other person is talking and pouring out their heart we are busy thinking of a “come back” to the point they are trying to make. We are clearly not esteeming the other party better than ourselves.

This is a big challenge for me. I thought I was a good listener because I take note of many things other people don’t take note of in conversations. But I am learning that I need to cultivate what Philippians 2 talks about, an attitude of esteeming my neighbour better than myself.

How do you practically challenge yourself to listen to what others say?

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One response to “I want to understand what you are saying …

  1. ‘consider others better than you..’ That’s some pretty solid advice on learning to listen and managing conflict in general. It even goes beyond ‘seeing the other image’ to considering that other image better than me!! Really tall order. I’ll try live this out this week. Thanks for sharing 😊

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