Listening may sound a bit trivial, but it is so important to a relationship. Listening is an indication of caring, empathy, connection and humility. It can also be an indication of the deepest love and trust to another you hold dear.

Huh? What did you say?

My mother had an old saying that stuck with me throughout my life. She used to say, “You are given one mouth and two ears. Use them proportionality.” I can’t say I have heeded her advice as often as I should. Many times, I had done just the opposite and ended up with my foot in my open mouth by saying the wrong thing too often. So, how good a listener, are you? I have been doing some research on this topic and discovered that I could improve. I summed up some of my findings in a quick seven-point test I found in the “Leadership” magazine. See how you do.

1.   Since you think about four times faster than a person usually talks, do you use this time to think about other things while you’re keeping track of the conversation?

2.   Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?

3.   Do you avoid listening to things you feel will be too difficult to understand?

4.   Can you tell from a person’s appearance and delivery that there won’t be anything worthwhile said?

5.   When someone is talking to you, do you appear to be paying attention when you’re not?

6.   Do certain words and phrases prejudice you so you cannot listen objectively?

7.   When listening, are you distracted by outside sights and sounds?

I’m not sure how you did on the test, but I discovered I have fallen prey to some bad habits in listening. And yes, it happens at home just as much elsewhere, possibly more. When I take people for granted for some reason, I find it hard to be a good listener. 

Listening may sound a bit trivial, but it is so important to a relationship. Listening is an indication of caring, empathy, connection and humility. It can also be an indication of the deepest love and trust to another you hold dear.  

Therefore, here are a couple bonus questions to the listening test. You will get extra credit.

  • Do you find yourself listening but not really hearing?

  • Do you listen with your heart or just with your ears?

There is a time limit to the test. It ends at your next conversation.

 

 

By Retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Bailey

Former Deputy Chief of Chaplains