The art of listening means trading in accusations and assumptions for grace and genuine, heart-seeking questions. As Believers carrying the grace of God within us, our conversations – including speaking and listening, both written and oral communication- should always, always be gracious.
He didn’t draw a heart.
If I was young and hip, I might phrase that as OMG!!!! He didn’t draw a heart!?!? WTH?
Since I’m a little ole granny, I’ll spare you the dramatics.
He didn’t draw a heart.
Instead, this is what I saw when I stumbled into the kitchen to reheat the coffee that he left by my bedside:
If I “listened” to his message incorrectly, I might have felt condemnation, or belittlement. After all, it wasn’t accompanied by a heart and the letters HH like most of his notes are. And it was pointing out the broccoli I left in the microwave overnight. I could have read it as “I’m beyond rehabilitation and he’s upset with me.”
Instead I giggled.
I pictured my husband opening the microwave to reheat his coffee and having a bag of broccoli greet him with its, um, identifying scent. As I mentioned in a recent post, it helps when we know the person we are “listening” to. And I know my husband doesn’t get mad at me for the endless little annoying habits I have. (I think his super power is “The Ability to Live With Marie Without Going Crazy.”)
About the broccoli.
Last night, as we sat down with heaping plates of nachos, I remembered the broccoli in the microwave, the bag I cooked last minute because I was craving some veggies. “Ugh! I forgot to grab the broccoli,” I grimaced. Since it was just the two of us, we were settled on the reclining couch, with the evening news just starting and I was pretty comfortable. “We can have it for dessert!” I cleverly problem solved, knowing the HH wasn’t as interested in the broccoli anyway.
I promptly delved into the nachos and all visions of broccoli left my mind.
Not the first time I forgot a dinner vegetable in the microwave, and surely not the last time.
The point? (I do try to make one 🙂 )
As I read my husband’s message and “listened” to his words, I read them with grace. And they made me smile.
Far too often, we listen without grace.
And this is one of the greatest hindrances to effective communication and good relationships.
Might I make a suggestion? Instead of thinking the worst, assume the best? And if you are unsure, ask questions. Not accusatory questions, but genuine I really want to hear your heart questions.
Recently one of my daughters “liked” something on Facebook, a photo with accompanying words that at first glance I, personally, wasn’t too keen on. But instead of pouncing on her with accusations, I asked a question. Can you explain that photo to me?
And I was totally blown away, totally wowed by the depth of her understanding of human nature and what the words meant. She gave me something I’ve been chewing on for a while:
Our first thoughts come automatically, usually stemming from society and such. But our second thoughts? Our second thoughts are what matter the most because they show what we long to be, what we are doing to change our thinking process.
( You can check out 2 Corinthians 10:5 for what the Word says on taking our thoughts captive. )
We can definitely apply this to how we listen. When we first hear something, we might have an automatic response to the words. We need to take enough time to think them through. Apply a liberal dose of grace. Ask questions.
And then we might find ourselves hearing something different, something delightful, something endearing.
The art of listening means trading in assumptions and accusations for grace and genuine questions. As Believers carrying the grace of God within us, our conversations – including speaking and listening, both written and oral communication – should always, always be gracious.
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 NASB
Oh yeah…about that forgotten broccoli? It made for a delightful breakfast:
Grateful for this abundant life,
Marie with a 🙂
Love this! Thanks!
And thank you for being obedient to your calling and gift! I wish I could write…. But definitely not my gift 😊
Thanks for the encouragement…and I bet you CAN write. (It just takes practice 😉 )
Your “listening” notes are true & need I believe to be totally true. I want to practice them always. I remember sometimes. After 80 years I still must discipline myself to use them always. Thanks for the reminder.
Sue, if you are in your 80’s, I bet you have a lot of wisdom to share with the rest of us! Thanks for the reminder that we never “arrive,” we need to continually be practicing.
Thank you, Marie, for generously assuming I have gained some wisdom in 80 years. Some, perhaps. A soupcon of wisdom. And lots of words. I love words. I trusted you with one of my favorites: soupcon. You have the gift of using words well, using words to build up the people whose lives you touch. God richly blesses you, my friend. His gifts to you are so plentiful and varied you must always snuggle up to him in the trust of using them to His glory. You do that very well. Keep up the good work. Realize, the more you live out your calling, the greater your weariness, and only He can revive you. He will. Jesus lives. God loves. The Spirit moves.
You share knowledge of things I “know” but practice far to infrequently. Bad habits come so easily, good habits are much harder to maintain in today’s world IMHO. Your knowledge and its presentation and humor (can’t forget that!) make me look forward to this appearing in my inbox.. I know you’ve mentioned this is hard for you. I just want to say I hope God leads and strengthens your determination to continue. Thank you.
I think we all constantly need to be reminded of things we “know” and often I am writing to remind myself 🙂 I appreciate the encouragement and feedback and kind words.
Loved this. Timed perfectly as Holy spirit has a habit of doing! Thank you for your anointed musings, they bring joy and encouragement. <3 (see what i did there? ;-)) Blessings xo
I love your encouragement to listen without assumption and accusation. I want to listen well because I, too, believe it is one of the greatest treasures we can give a person!