Really Listening to Others
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Sunday - October 3rd
Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 18:6-13
To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.
Like any world leader, President Franklin Roosevelt had to deal regularly with enormous receiving lines at the White House. He lamented the fact that no one seemed to be paying attention to what the President was saying. So, he decided to perform an experiment one day at a reception.
"I murdered my grandmother this morning," he mumbled to each person who came through the line and shook his hand. The attendees' responses included expressions such as, "Fantastic! Keep up the excellent work." "We are incredibly proud of you, Sir." "May God bless you."
His mumbled statements were not heard until the end of the line when he was greeting the ambassador from Bolivia. The ambassador sheepishly said, "I'm sure she had it coming Mr. President."
Most of us know how the President felt. We have been with people, talking with them, and realized they weren't really listening. Most of us have also been the person talking to someone but not really hearing what was being said. Listening is more than hearing and listening is more than hearing enough to formulate a response. Proverbs 18:13 says, "To answer before listening—that is folly and shame."
A critical part of being a good listener is hearing someone out entirely before formulating the response in our own minds. If our answer is formed before fully hearing someone, our response will be flawed and impersonal. Listening to others requires that we hear what they are saying completely. General George Marshall had a formula for handling people: "1) Listen to the other person's story. 2) Listen to the other person's full story. 3) Listen to the other person's full story first."
How about you? Do you truly listen to what others are saying? Do you hear them fully? Or, do you form answers and responses in your mind before the other person has completed their thoughts?
Good listeners hear others out completely. They really listen to others!