Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”
Our Bible verse for today: “The one who gives an answer before he listens – this is foolishness and a disgrace for him.” Proverbs 18:13 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Please listen to me!”
Long ago I gave-up watching television news talk shows – the kind where they have a group discussion and they debate the issues. Those things drive me crazy because nobody listens to the other person. Instead they all try to talk at that same time, usually loudly and with great emotion. They talk at each other, over each other, and past each other, but they seldom listen to each other. Not much effective communication going on there.
Unfortunately the same is often true in our own conversations. Too often we don’t really listen to each other. Instead we interrupt and argue and talk right past each other without really listening to what the other person is saying.
Personally, I dislike being interrupted in conversation. I think it’s rude. When somebody interrupts you mid-sentence they’re essentially letting you know that they’re not really interested in what you have to say. They obviously think that whatever they have to say is more important, so they cut you off and begin talking over you. I hate that.
However, that’s actually very common. Most people talk too much and don’t listen enough. Also, when they do allow the other person to talk they’re usually not really listening to what that person is saying. Instead they’re thinking about what they’re going to say next as soon as it’s their turn to talk again.
Poor listening skills are one of the primary reasons conversations go bad. When people interrupt each other, talking over and past the other person, it leads to frustration and even anger. There’s no way a discussion will be helpful and productive under those conditions.
One of the basic rules for effective communication is to really listen to the other person – empathically. That means you pay attention to what they are saying, you think about it as they’re saying it, you try to relate to their point of view, and you let them finish what they’re saying before you start talking. Proverbs 18:13 says it’s foolish and rude to attempt to answer someone before you’ve taken the time to really listen to them.
To be a good listener you should allow the other person to speak first. Then really listen to them and let them finish what they’re saying before you start talking. This requires patience on your part, but it will greatly enhance the quality and effectiveness of your conversations.