Talking vs listening

The small cafeteria at our workplace was abuzz with chatter. Colleagues sat in groups and the room was humming with conversation. That morning I felt I had little to contribute and opted to sit alone. Staring out the window, I was lost in troubled contemplation of recent loss, rough edges in my working relationships, and a nagging health issue, and I wondered when I would finally reach the proverbial end of the tunnel where the sun shines again.

As I sipped my latte, I glanced around the room noticing that everyone seemed to have a story to tell. It seemed that everyone enjoyed saying their piece, but fewer were involved in active listening. I thought I could really use a friend with good listening skills who could help me untangle my troubled thoughts. That’s when an idea started to form in my mind. Instead of waiting for that special friend, perhaps I should try to be one to others, and since we had recently started a new year, I could even make “better listening” a late New Year’s resolution.

My new focus on listening skills prompted me to also take a closer look into how I listened to God. Of course, I realized there was a need for improvement in this area as well and that I needed to develop a keener ear to catch heavenly instruction. If I were really being honest with myself, I’d say that lately my prayer life had been a whole lot of talking and only a little bit of listening.

There is so much to be learned about this skill, but the first step is deciding to be the listener for others that I would want them to be for me. Having taken the first few baby steps, I already notice that my relationships with coworkers and friends have improved.

And by the way, God did lead me to my own personal “good listener” whose undivided attention helped me untangle my thoughts and feel that someone understands. “Give, and it will be given to you.”1.

  1. Luke 6:38