Current Song playing in the background:
Brooke Fraser – Therapy
Man, I’m loving this new track by Brooke Fraser!
TWO POSTS IN TWO DAYS WHAT IS THIS ERIKA? WHO ARE YOU?
The purpose of this post is really just a follow up from yesterday’s post about Knowing Who You’re Leading, it’s also an expansion from an article found on Desiring God (see end of post for link).
Were you ever interrupted midway through a conversation? “Yes of course I have”.
Were you ever in a conversation where you just can’t put a word in? “Why, yes!”
Were your words and advice simply ignored because “yea, I know”? “YESSS!??!!”
Do you find that you’re always the one talking during a conversation? “Uh yea”
Do you find that your friends keep making weird noises like they wanted to say something? “Yea, weird right?”
Do you find that you seem to know everything? “That’s cos I do”
Do you find that 0/100 people you’ve asked will tell you what you want to hear? “Yea, frustrating”
WELL THEN THIS BLOG POST IS FOR YOU!
Let’s be straight up here, we all have that one friend who seem to have an opinion on every single thing. Often or not, they’ll relate whatever you’re talking about to something they’ve done or experienced. It’s as though there’s absolutely nothing this person has not done or not have their two cents in. The next thing you know, you avoid saying anything just to have a little peace and quiet + a couple of bucks from all the two cents you’ve collected from them (HA!).
But that’s one type of friend. The other is the type who never seem to say anything nor want to say anything. Sometimes they chuck a few “yea I agree” but it doesn’t seem like they are interested at all.
The final type of friend is that person who seem to say what is on everyone’s mind. The ones who say the right things at the right time. The ones who dare to speak out and be firm on what they deem to be the most logical or most needed to be said. But what’s the difference between these three?
The Difference Between Ignoring, Hearing and Listening
Ignore: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally
Hear: perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)
Listen: give one’s attention to a sound
Here Bonhoeffer gives us something to avoid: “a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say.” This, he says, “is an impatient, inattentive listening, that . . . is only waiting for a chance to speak.”
Dayum son. Guilty as charged.
So often when chatting with a friend about something I have decent knowledge about – my mind formulates an answer before they’ve even finished talking. That’s one of those times when I cut them off mid speech and give my opinion. These are also the conversations that seem to take forever to get to the main point or figure out the right things to say. The conversation becomes noise and doesn’t have much soul to it, because I simply ignored the deeper emotions by giving no chance for the other to share without interruptions.
If you take just a moment to hold your opinions in, you might just find that by the end of their sentence, your previous opinions would’ve probably been incorrect or even worse, not be said in grace.
So then, what about hearing and listening? The ones who hear are the ones who soon have the conversation pass through to the other ear. The ones who don’t take the time to search for the purpose of the conversation. They’ll lend a listening ear, but that’s about where it stops. I know sometimes, there’s too many things going through your mind and I can understand that you’re not in the right mind frame for “problem solving”.
We should then, strive to be a listener. As it says, it’s when attention is given, to let them know that you are here for them. That you will do your best to give the most needed advice AFTER hearing them out. I’m sure that as the one sharing, having someone giving you their undivided attention reassures you.
What Good Listening Can Do For You and Others
If you’ve read the previous post, good listening becomes vital when you’re trying to invest into someone’s life.
- For You
Good listening allows space for you to grow, to retrace your steps, it teaches you patience and humility, it creates involvement for grace, love and kindness.
It happens when you’re out there searching for advice. Remember the “0/100 people you’ve asked will tell you what you want to hear?” Well some of my friends out there, if this stirred something in you – listen up. 0/100 may not tell you what you WANT to hear, but 100/100 may be trying to tell you something you NEED to hear. If that’s not enough of a good advice to you, then I think you may need a self check.
- For Others
You know that common phrase “you’re such a good listener”? Well that probably came from someone who simply needed to be heard. (But can I just add here, what you do with what you heard is also important. If you’re all up in that gossip thing, well maybe you should take time to listen to better things. If you’re not giving any advice, then can I suggest you actually try to, because listening to too many people’s problem can end up becoming a giant boulder on your shoulder.) When you take time to listen, you will find the right words to say, and you will find that deep down emotion buried in the other. People do need others some days to dig out the pain in them. Sometimes your listening will allow God to move in them through revelation – through asking the much needed questions; “do you really think that was justifiable in God’s eyes?” “was it really his/her fault?” “are you seeking the right answers?”
Read Proverbs 18 – there’s quite an insight into the reflection of the tongue to the person. But here are some of the verses that challenged me.
V2: Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.
Ya know, sometimes your opinions are completely irrelevant to the person. “Yea that happened to me too” – ain’t helping no one. “See I told you so” – there’s not even a legitimate reason to say this. (ps, i know it may be a little ironic that i’m sharing my opinions through blogging lol, but I take comfort in the reassuring messages and comments from you guys, as well as challenging myself through my own reflection).
V6: The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.
If there’s nothing nice, continue eating your rice. All love here. (i tried rhyming, it was hard).
V7: The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
For me, I’m often able to perceive what a person is like by the words they say to me and others. If you think you’re gonna regret saying something, then don’t say it. If you think saying something won’t make anything better, then don’t say it. If your words reflect differently depending on who you talk to, then be careful, because you just might be creating a trap for yourself to walk into.
V13: To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.
Like those quiz episodes where people answer the question before the questioner finishes asking the question, then you get the answer completely wrong. Embarrassssiiinngg!
I can’t teach you how to listen, I believe it’s something to learn daily. When we practice listening to people, we practice listening to God. The more time you spend expressing your opinions, the easier it is to drown out the important voices.
Anyways, here’s a little “love story” about how listening does wonders.
As you guys know, Josh and I are quite different. In fact we are so different, he’s an ESTJ and I’m an INFP. He’s an articulate person and I spend way too long trying to explain or express myself. He’s into reading, I’m into baking. Left brained vs Right brained. Well, like they say, opposites attract right?
We both agree, he likes talking. Sometimes, it seems like he has an opinion for everything. Sometimes, it annoys me that he just shuts me down with his “knowledge on everything”. Or even with his logical thinking.
I on the other hand, am a little quieter. I don’t always (sometimes I do) pretend to know what I actually have no clue about. But when I become overly passionate or frustrated about something, I can rant on and on. Sometimes, when I feel insecure, I try to make it look like I’m clued up about a topic – but really my head is like literally this video.
Another thing about Josh is that he’s really into his theology. He has that courage to talk about God because he’s always reading or trying to answer people’s questions. I on the other; well, I’d rather you not ask me. But sometimes he uses really profound words and even I can see the rather confused look on the other person’s face. That’s where I come in with my simple brain, because I choose to listen and not pretend like I’m super theological – I sometimes simplify what he is trying to say just to make it clearer. Sometimes, I’ll just add on my little thoughts on top of his because I can see that the other person is looking for something they can relate more to.
Now that’s the public life. But when it comes to us – I find that I’ll more than often be the one starting the argument with him or making him upset. Josh is a words person, and I’m more of a physical touch person (might write a post one day about love languages). I’m also quite stubborn. So as I would, I’ll say something -> Josh triggered -> I’m triggered -> argue. But here’s where things are different; this time he’ll give me space to tell him why I’m upset or angry or emotional. And he’ll listen quietly until I’ve finished ranting or sobbing LOL or whatever, before he says something. I don’t think we’ve ever fought for over 24hours, let alone 12hrs? It’s great for us and we don’t hold hard feelings for each other. Though I should probably learn to listen to him when he’s not happy about something…
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Anyways, listening and speaking when the time is right has worked well for us. I see this working all the time even between casual chats with my friends, and I know it’ll work well for you too. There’s literally only benefits from doing this. Yes you may have less input, but input doesn’t necessarily mean much if said in the spur or without thought.
Btw, a lot of this blog post is inspired and credited to another Desiring God article – Six Lessons in Good Listening. I’ve just kinda expanded my own thoughts into it.