James 1:19 (NASB)
19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
As I was growing up, I had many a teacher say to a class: “God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them in that proportion.” The point of this admonition echoed the teaching of James 1:19 to listen more than you speak.
Good communication is critical to healthy relationships. When we stop listening to one another, the quality of our relationship begins to erode as misunderstanding gains a foot hold. Sadly when this erosion begins to happen, our relationships begin to deteriorate into places hurt, animosity, resentment and deep rooted anger. So many times we only hear, but don’t allow ourselves to truly understand what we are hearing, and by doing so we have opened the doorway to anger. Often times our hearing becomes skewed as it comes through the lens of our perception of what was said, not truly reflecting what was said.
This counsel of the Scripture is practical to everyday life. This truly is a formula for not only resolving conflict, but many times avoiding conflict all together. It is imperative that we learn to truly listen to those around us. Salesmen are taught to clarify their dialogue with prospects by repeating what was said. I think this is a great principle not only for salesmen, but for all of us. When we listen, we need to listen with understanding, going the extra mile to clarify whether or not we have heard correctly what is being said. By doing this we avoid defensive and often hostile reactions that arise because of misunderstanding. By actively listening we are less likely to jump to conclusions, making erroneous assumptions about what has been spoken.
Today you will have many interactions with others. I encourage you to have fun with this. In places where you would normally dominate a conversation, make a choice to listen intently. You’ll be surprised at what you learn about those around you, and others will see you as someone who truly takes an interest in them.