What's So Great About Listening?

By JoJo Tabares

Over the last several years, I have written a great deal on the topic of listening.  Most people know that listening is an important skill but they don’t really know why.  Here are a few of the sayings I have written that I have used in various articles over the last several years.

“1 speaker + 1 Listener = an effective communication equation.”

In order for effective communication to take place, we need at least one listener. The most articulate person will have no success in communicating his thoughts if there isn’t at least one person who is truly listening.  Hearing isn’t listening.  If you have children, you’ll understand this.  Johnny hears you, but he doesn’t understand what you’ve asked him to do.  He may have given the appropriate response, but he wasn’t really listening.  You know this because he eventually comes downstairs with his half empty hamper instead of taking the garbage out.

Hearing is when the individual recognizes that sound has left your lips.  Listening is when he comprehends what you’ve said.  True communication is when he understands it the way you had intended.  Johnny not only takes the garbage out, but he does it with a happy heart because he knows you were asking respectfully though you had to yell up the stairs to get his attention because he was listening to the radio.

“Sometimes the most intelligent thing to say is…nothing.”

There are times when we are tempted to fill the peaceful sound of silence with chatter.  There are situations in which we feel compelled to give an answer though we have no idea what the question was.  There are statements that are better left unsaid.  These are the times that try men’s mouths and we should ask ourselves if the situation is better served by speaking up or standing down.  Remember that not every question requires an answer and there are times when the most articulate thing to say is “I don’t know.”

“When your audience is no longer listening, it’s always best to stop talking!”

How many times have we been guilty of overstaying our welcome in a conversation?  Have there been times when you where having a great discussion only to find yourself in an awkward situation where neither the speaker nor the listener agree?  You’ve both voiced your opinions and explained your positions but neither of you is currently willing to accept the other’s idea.  There is a line beyond which you cannot remain cordial.  In an effort to persuade and in the heat of a great debate, that line can be crossed.  It’s this line that can threaten any further amicable discussion.  It’s this line that can end a friendship.  There is a line beyond which discussion may easily turn to argument.  When that line is met, it’s best to agree to disagree for the time being.

“You will not persuade another by cutting off his argument. You will only stifle your understanding of how to answer him.”

It’s human nature to want to quell any dissenting opinion.  The need to be heard is quite strong which is why we have written the right of free speech into our Constitution.  But think a minute about the consequences of your right to bear words.  Hubert Humphrey said, “The right to free speech doesn’t automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”  I must add that the right to speak also doesn’t preclude the other’s right to disagree or take offense.  Once you have crossed the line of civility, your listener has the right to be offended.  Remember what the Lord tells us in Proverbs 18:19, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of the citadel.”

Often the right to free speech is trumped by the right to remain silent…or rather the choice!

JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com