So let me paint a picture for you:
You and another person are in a fight (significant other, parent, child, friend, etc). The two of you are going back and forth arguing about fill in the blank.
In the midst of the argument, the other person talking is trying to make their point of why they are right, and you are wrong. While this is happening, you are not listening (or only half-listening) to a word they say.
You are too busy thinking of your counter-argument to prove why they are wrong and you are right. Then both parties realize that the other is not actually listening, so then the argument evolves into a new argument with the ever so famous line: “You’re not even listening to me!”
I have been guilty of a scenario similar to this on more than one occasion. Have you?
I tune out the person who is talking, while thinking about my own response (or maybe my dinner plans) and suddenly realizing the person I am “listening” to sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown.
If you are anything like me, you don’t want this to become a habit. In fact, we must do the opposite and develop the habit of listening with intent: As a business owner. As a spouse. As a parent. As a child. And most importantly…
As a follower of Christ
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian theologian addresses the topic of listening in his book “Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community”:
“The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.”
Putting it in Practice
As we love and serve others in our personal life as well as our business life, it is our duty as Christians to walk out biblical practices. As a business owner, you have employees, clients, vendors all bringing their ideas, questions and concerns to you. Listen to them. This speaks volumes to the client or employee when they feel heard, and return will build respect and trust in that relationship.
Even in your personal life, develop the habit of being intentional in conversation, being patient with the other person and putting them before yourself. You may be surprised at how much you learn about the other person by truly listening.
It may be the introvert in me who is more quiet and observant, but I think there is a great value to be someone who listens. Nowadays, we have many distractions coming at us, especially with technology at our fingertips. I am just as guilty as the next couple having a conversation at the dinner table while my eyes are glued to my Facebook feed. It’s a bad habit.
So, let’s put the distractions aside and value the person facing us, no matter the setting.
I leave you with this challenge:
- Listen intently to the Lord. Open His word up daily and pray that He would speak to you. I believe the Lord speaks to me often, the problem is I am not always listening.
- Listen intently to others. This takes intentionality and discipline to put another person’s thoughts before your own. It may be for 5 minutes or 25 minutes. Be patient in the way you listen and love others, just as Christ loves us.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger..”