Friday, August 28, 2015

the art of listening

Today's readings: Job 31:1-33:33, 2 Cor 3:1-18, Psalm 43:1-5, Prov 22:8-9

So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite lays the smack down today.

And he does so in a very wise way. He has mastered something that we all of us in this modern world of hyperconnected, memed, hashtagged, instagrammedm snapchatted selfies need to learn again - the fine art of listening.

Listening seems so easy. You just close your mouth, open your ears and your mind, and let the person you're talking to say things. You ponder them. You consider their point of view. You might even learn something.

But the temptation is so strong NOT to listen. We are distracted. Our phone demands our attention. We are thinking of what WE want to say next instead of listening to the other person. Even if we keep our mouth closed, don't check our phone, and let the other person talk, our mind wanders. We find ourselves realizing that we have no idea what the other person said for the last two minutes.

I don't say these things to make you feel bad. Believe me, there is enough out there to make us feel bad. I'm not trying to shame you or bring you down. In fact, I'm trying to do just the opposite.

When we listen, we grow wiser. Elihu let the other, older guys have their say. He listened to their arguments, and ... and this is important... he absorbed their viewpoints. He didn't come to the argument ignorant of what the other people thought.

This is one huge advantage that you gain from letting others speak before you. When you finally do speak, your view takes their view into account. You've had a Hegelian dialog in your brain, and what you say is the result.  It makes you look wiser... and it in fact MAKES you wiser.

So I say all of this to help. To make your life richer and help you to not only APPEAR smarter to your friends and family, but actually BE smarter... because you take other's perceptions into account, and their view of things colors your view. It allows you, in essence, to see things from more angles than just your own.

BTW... sometimes the conversation you're having (like the one in the pic at the top of this blog) is with God. And when you're talking to God, listening more than you speak is a great way to become wise.

So listen.

God, thanks for teaching us to listen, and to grow wise.


julie reedy said... different from "whoever talks the loudest wins." God remind me to listen more and speak less, listening to your creation including humans.

Marcia Stutes said...

That picture looks like my happy place in my mind's eye. "He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul." That restoration comes, in part, from being still and listening to that still small voice.