“You didn’t let me finish!” exclaimed my 8–year–old niece. She was telling me a long story about her day. Halfway through her story, I interrupted her; I was busy and needed to get stuff done.
“Adults never let me finish,” she said in frustration. Her comment took me back, I used to think that too when I was young. I was doing the same thing that drove me crazy: I wasn’t listening.
Every day I see it:
I will be sitting at a meeting and a coworker would be telling her idea and before finishing it, she is interrupted by another coworker. Eventually, the conversation goes a different way and we never hear her full idea.
In a restaurant, an old man would be telling his grandkids stories of his childhood. Only to have his grandkids say “Cool grandpa,” but never once lifting their eyes from their phones. “Kids these days are so addicted to those things,” said the grandpa.
Recently, I spoke to a gentleman who told me stories of his brother, who was a Christian prisoner of war for 17 years in Iran. I thanked him for the stories, and he said “No, thank you for humoring me, people don’t listen anymore.”
His comment demonstrated how bad we are at listening. In fact, we are so bad at listening that it is considered a skill: Active Listening Skill—skillsyouneed.com has this to say about the skill:
Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, active listening can be difficult to master and will, therefore, take time and patience to develop.
‘Active listening‘ means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker
Read more at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html
They have great tips; however, it makes me a little sad that we need such guidance. Alfred Brendel (a famous pianist) once said:
“The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent.’ ”
In other words: Shut-up and listen!
Not just verbally shut-up, but mentally shut-up. The entire time, when my niece was telling me about her day, I was thinking about the next thing I was going to say and all the stuff I had to get done that day. I wasn’t treating her with the respect she deserves; I was putting myself and my activities before her.
So, let’s do it, sisters! Let’s Shut-up and Listen! Let’s make the conscious effort to quiet our mouth and mind, and listen to our co-worker, our grandparents, our children, and even complete strangers. You never know, it could be the greatest gift you give someone.
A side thought, if we don’t know how to listen to the people in front of us, do we know how to listen to God, whom we cannot see?