"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19 NIV).
One of the most common causes of frustration and friction in relationships is that we don't really listen to each other. Too often we talk at each other rather than with each other.
Fortunately, listening is a skill that can be developed.
The benefits of learning how to listen are enormous: fewer mistakes, better negotiating, greater wisdom, more friends, less arguments, and much more.
The Bible tells us to be “Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry" (James 1:19 NIV). If you master the first two skills, the third will be automatic.
Three things hinder our hearing:
Presumption: when we think we already know it all. "He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13 NIV).
Impatience: when we interrupt and jump to conclusions. "There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking" (Proverbs 29:20 NLT).
Pride: when we’re defensive and unteachable. "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice" (Proverbs 12:15 NIV). You can learn from anyone if you know the right questions to ask.
Let me suggest three hearing aids:
Listen with your eyes. Probably 80% of communication is non-verbal. Facial expressions and body language usually tell the real story. Look at people when you listen to them!
Listen with your heart. Be sympathetic. Tune in to the emotions behind the words.
Make time to listen to the people around you. In the business world, Tom Peters calls this "Managing By Walking Around," or MBWA. Imagine how your relationships could be transformed if you focused on carefully listening to those around you.