A Strategic Skill

Listening may be one of the most undervalued skills of all time. Well, at least undervalued in our times. Bluster and sound bites seem to be the order of the day, particularly from politicians, news and sports commentators, and “thought leaders.” Much of society seems to have fallen into a more pernicious habit, though, of talking at people rather than talking with people. And those who talk “at” rather than talk “with” often do not seem to realize that others can’t get a word in edgewise. Even those who do pause to listen sometimes seem to be plotting their next fusillade of words rather than truly hearing what the other person says or means. How can we find out what someone thinks, how they are doing, or what matters unless we listen to them? How can we understand their situation or their viewpoint unless we listen? And how can we listen if we are talking?

Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Good perspective, but listening has even broader value. Listening helps us know our friends, neighbors, and relatives. Listening gives us insights into their insights. Listening pries us out of ourselves and opens us to others. Talking “with” rather than talking “at” definitely costs time and energy, and the openness can make us vulnerable. Few investments are guaranteed, but investing in listening can pay off handsomely in building and maintaining healthy relationships. It can also inform our hearts and minds. Let those who have ears to hear, listen.

6 thoughts on “A Strategic Skill

  1. One of the hardest things is to not interrupt. I find myself sometimes biting my tongue and letting the other person finish their sentence. Doing better but have a ways to go.


    1. I know what you mean. There are many conversations, though, where you have to interrupt or else people assume you have nothing worthwhile to contribute, and then happily freeze you out of the discussion. I had to counsel some of my employees to find a way to be polite yet assertive, even though as a child they had been taught not to interrupt others.


  2. What travels faster, sound or light? The body language in which words are couched often determines whether or not the words are heard.


  3. I hope I wasn’t the one that inspired your thot for the day. I was rather vociferous.
    Talks should be succinct, to the point and without so much emotion.


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