Are You an Effective Listener? Listening & Your Relationships

by John Greene

facebook connectThere’s an old saying that goes something like this: you have two ears because you are designed to listen twice as much as you speak. Many of us believe we are great ‘listeners’ because of social networking. But social networking is more about ‘me’ than someone else… and it usually isn’t all that important. When my wife (or anyone else for that matter) wants to talk, in real life the monologue can easily go on for an hour. While I’m often a man of few words, my wife is, more often than not, a woman of many. To her, these words are important. Very often, she is exactly right. However, when anyone talks to you for an extended period, the words can begin to sound like white noise after a while. Words are important, and so is what she has to say – even when I’m not often the best at listening, and sometimes even worse at fully understanding what she intends to express. Even though we both regularly communicate in English, we sometimes seem to speak a different language. So it is with others. That is why conversation, or at least repeating back what is understood frequently, can be vital to understanding and remembering. This is also why lectures and rants rarely work to strengthen relationships. More importantly, mutual respect is essential to any meaningful relationship. (Luke 6:45; James 1:19-20; Ecclesiastes 5:1-20, 7:5; Proverbs 10:19, 15:1; “Modern Society & Obsolete Marriage“; “The Garden of the Marriage Relationship“)

listenListening is an important skill that requires hard work, such as concentration and practice. Most of us need more than a little practice since hearing isn’t listening. How you were brought up and the culture you live in often impacts your outlook about listening. As you grew up, your mind and heart became conditioned, resulting in a certain combination of ‘mind filters’. A mind filter is, quite simply, how you perceive what is happening around you. Your listening habits become ingrained over time, but this doesn’t mean that changes and improvements can’t be made by anyone that chooses to do so. (Proverbs 18:13, 19:27; James 1:22; “Christian Life & Attitude“; “Mind Filters“)

Some people fool themselves into believing they are good listeners without making the investment of time and attention. To others, careful listening is simply more than they are willing to try – which likely accounts for why so many relationships are in such trouble in these times. For another, the other person has nothing to offer because the listener is always right in his or her own mind. Even for those that are receptive to listening, the distractions of life are often allowed to intervene and supplant relationship. In many long-term relationships, one or both simply learn to turn close attention off to avoid the lingering pain of continued neglect in relationship with others. (Proverbs 12:15, 17:28, 18:2, 29:20; Ephesians 4:29, 32; “Strongholds & the Armor of YHWH“)

talking-part-of-intimacyPart of listening is giving the messenger all of your attention. If you are on the computer or texting on your smartphone, you aren’t truly concentrating or practicing your listening. If the television is on in the room competing for attention, then a brave choice needs to be made. The reality is that the refusal to listen hurts. When the attention of the listener is focused on the dog or on something else, the listener is telling the speaker that something else is more important, or at least not as important as what he/she is in the middle of doing. In marriage relationships, this problem often continues, magnifying and festering into resentment and bitterness. (Matthew 7:12; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:21, 33; Philippians 2:3; “Marriage: Wise Words Bring Healing“; “Forsaking Bitterness“; “Is Your Forgiveness Real?“)

Part of listening is refusing to interrupt the one you are listening to. Continually dividing your attention is rude and a sign that you aren’t listening. Both the speaker and listener also need to be receptive to one another. The listener isn’t a slave to the speaker any more than the speaker is a slave to the listener. The ability to have a conversation is no less important than to be heard and understood.

the fixerSome listeners are in the habit of being the ‘fixer’, quickly offering solutions for problems as he/she sees it. This kind of listener may be so skilled in these kinds of observations that he or she finds solutions to problems that don’t really exist or aren’t part of the discussion. The repentant interrupter needs to stop the impulse to give out advice, even if one catches himself or herself in mid-sentence. Apologize and show that you are motivated to become a better listener. (Luke 14:11; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Proverbs 11:2; “Real Love“)

disagree1Becoming a defensive listener is a behavior that is often learned. The listener hears what speaker says and perceives this as a personal attack whether it is or not. This reaction springs from a damaged heart condition or what the world calls self-image. The first impulse of the offended is often to rise up in anger. The perception of criticism abruptly shuts down the willingness of the listener to continue, even if he/she is already distracting him/herself with other matters. (Proverbs 16:21, 32; Matthew 15:18-20; Ephesians 4:26; “Angry Christian? Are You Toxic?“; “Breaking the Hold of Stress“)

forgivenessThe willingness to listen takes commitment. Nowhere in daily interactions is this more important than in human relationships. Your attitudes, beliefs, expectations, intentions and values are mind filters that color your perception of the world, for better or worse. Your body language matters as well. When you open up to the speaker, you automatically begin to take down part of the walls of your heart and mind that so many use to protect themselves. Your lean toward the speaker, make eye contact and uncross your arms for a start. Commitment is especially important when a person of many words speaks with a person that uses few words or is less expressive (at least most of the time). Some experts claim that listening comprehension is somewhere around 25%, underlining the importance of listening and communicating understanding back in relationships. (Philippians 2:4: “Disciple: Renewing Your Mind“; “Spiritual Fruit & Renewing Your Mind“)

Repeating back what is said in conversation is an important part of increasing understanding of what another is saying, especially when words are important. When you must talk over the phone (recommended for only the most casual needs) or your favorite electronic device, remember to talk especially slow at first. The first ten seconds of what you say can easily be lost, even in person. This is because the person at the other end is just tuning you in and focusing on what you have to say. Perfect listening isn’t possible this side of YHWH’s Kingdom. When your attention drifts, ask the speaker to repeat what you don’t hear or understand. If you need to break and move about a moment or get a drink, do so. Nobody wants to fall asleep to a voice that becomes white noise because the listener is doing all of the listening, and even less understanding. (“Spiritual Disease That Eats at Your Salvation“)

time for quietConsider more quiet time, some actual silence if possible. This helps you deal more effectively with a world that is built on constant clamor that demands your attention. (Psalm 23:1-6) Being able to listen (or read) and understand is even more important for spiritual matters relating to YHWH’s Kingdom. Your ability to understand is dependent on your ability to listen or read scripture. (John 3:11-18; Romans 8:9; Hebrews 4:15; Ephesians 6:18; Psalm 84:11) This is what makes the Holy Spirit so important in the life of a dedicated Christian. (John 14:15-17, 26, 15:26, 16:12-15; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:30)

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” – Luke 8:16-18

hardened-heartThis is what Yahshua the Messiah said right after He revealed the parable of soil of the heart. The soil of your heart determines how YHWH’s Kingdom takes root in your heart. That soil can be enriched by your attitude over time. Just as we often fail to listen with care to what others have to say, we fail to pay attention to scripture or to the quiet ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Very often, your mind is made up as to what you want to do. When you know YHWH’s Word and His Spirit rests in you, you know whether what your flesh wants to do lines up with the Will of your Heavenly Father. When you abide in Him, your life and your decisions begin to line up with the Word of the Father. The purpose of scripture is to reveal truth to the spiritually responsive and to conceal truth from the spiritually shallow.

“And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the reign of Elohim, but to the rest in parables, that seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not understand.’” – Luke 8:10, ISR98

light from the lampstandThe lamp of YHWH’s truth is to shine on a stand, not hidden under a bed. Spiritual truth lights the way and exposes falsehood. (Luke 8:17) Each disciple of Christ must take care how he or she listens. This allows you to respond personally and obediently to the teaching of Christ and the admonition of the Holy Spirit. Others shrink back because of the judgment of sin. When you respond obediently, you receive more light. When you shrink back, you lose the light that you have. The light of YHWH’s Kingdom exposes sin. A disciple of Christ doesn’t grope about in the dark. The Word and the Holy Spirit shine light on the questions of life that so many are concerned with. Each Christian is to personally seek first YHWH’s Kingdom and righteousness. The result will be that all other things that are needed will be added to the things of YHWH – not the other way around. Your Heavenly Father is first! (Matthew 6:25-33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” – John 3:19-20

reading scriptureChristians must listen actively and attentively to what is important to YHWH. The Father’s direction is not simply to fill your mind with noble information or to impress others. It is to change your heart to conform with the Holy Spirit and the Light of Scripture, the Messiah. Effective listening is vital to your spiritual life. (John 14:21; Luke 8:19-21; “Christianity: A Crisis in Prayer & Spirit“)

Hebrew scrollMany think that YHWH’s Word is boring. I personally disagree. I find that by carefully considering scripture and listening to the Holy Spirit, you will continually learn the depths of meaning that scripture truly has. For me, this means studying the original text of what was written so that I can begin to understand the nuances of what my Father has for me. Never has plumbing the depths of scripture been easier, since the materials are readily available, many of them at no cost. You can do this yourself because it is important to you. When you abide in YHWH’s Kingdom, you also have as your Counselor, the Holy Spirit. He can also reveal the important points of the Bible in your life in ways nobody else can. That is just the beginning as disciples and apostles of Christ reach out to others in these last days. (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:16-20; John 1:12; Acts 2:4; Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:7; 2 Peter 3:9)

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“For YHWH so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16, RNKJV
Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending the Messiah, your only begotten Son to be my Savior. I believe in Him and have made this belief the center of my life. Because of this, by faith I have everlasting life! Thank you! I repent of my sins and of my past, freely admitting that I have fallen short of Your glory. I look fully forward to you in my life and commit my life to You. Thank You YHWH, my Heavenly Father for setting me free in the name of your Son Yahshua [Jesus]. Amen.
genuine-articleYou will never enjoy true freedom through the Messiah and power of the Holy Spirit unless you read and absorb the Bible in prayer and trust. You will never know this freedom until you experience it for yourself. Get to know your Heavenly Father, His Son and allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. The Holy Spirit is your teacher, your Holy Counselor that lives in you to help you learn about the truth of YHWH and His spiritual gifts.
Satan does not want you to have the excellence of YHWH in your life. People pray for protection and want to be taken care of, but often do little in growing close to Him. The world, your husband, your wife, your family, your government do not build your trust in YHWH or free you from spiritual bondage. Your church or your pastor cannot save you. Education, power and money will not free you, but only the Word of your Heavenly Father. Salvation is a daily walk, an act of love for yourself and for those around you, not a one-time event that centers only on you. Make the Word of YHWH your own, your very life!
YHWH is Yahweh, the covenant name of your Heavenly Father.
The names Yahshua and Yahushua are original language names for Jesus,
He is often referred simply as the Messiah or Master.
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