Listening

Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. Proverbs 18:13 (The Message) I have a love-hate relationship with this verse. I love the boldness. It’s obvious. There is no misunderstanding. When you answer before listening, well that’s just stupid. And rude. I hate this verse because it’s convicting. And more often than not, I fall into the latter portion.

When we respond before listening, what we’re really saying is, “I actually don’t care about what you think,” or “I don’t value your opinion.” We’re telling the other person that we are more concerned with our own opinion and voicing it, instead of being a friend and listening ear.  And that’s rude. That communicates to the other person that we don’t care about them. And I, for one, certainly don’t want to communicate that to other people.

So, how do we change? When talking to another person, one of the best questions you can ever ask is, “Do you want me to respond, or do you just need me to listen?” Sometimes the person talking to you is not looking for a reply; he is just looking for a friend who will listen.

What if we began asking this question in our conversations? Think about what it will communicate to the other person. It will communicate that we care more about listening to him or her than we do about airing our own opinion. Because sometimes, in that moment, what we think is not the most important thing. The most important thing may be being a good listener. And I don’t see anything stupid or rude about that.

- Kristin