From Confrontation to Conversation: Thoughts on Listening

We often overlook the role of listening in our lives. There are many guidelines that people give for public speaking, but whoever heard of anything like that for public listening? We take it for granted and don’t think about the importance that it has in creating, healing, and maintaining relationships.

True listening is an active process, one that requires focus and intentionality. We cannot really know what someone else is saying if we are only thinking about our next response.

Listening is a gift you give to another person. It is saying to them that they matter to you and that you think what they have to say is important and valuable, even if you don’t agree with it.

Listening is calming. Just by showing someone that their opinion matters, you can help defuse a potentially difficult conversation. They might not feel the need to keep repeating themselves and to convince you so much. However, a conversation where neither side is listening quickly escalates into an argument.

Listening is the gateway to understanding. It is a powerful tool to explore the lives of others and the different worlds that they live in. We are often too quick to judge and pigeonhole those who are not like us, but spending the time to understand what they believe and why they believe it can help us be more gracious and forgiving, while also filling in some of our own blind spots. With true listening it is more difficult to judge and easier to love.