“God has given us two ears and one mouth that we may hear more and speak less.” I work as a guest host at a Care Center in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago. My job is to explain how our center works and to tell new people about the many benefits that could be theirs. After I give them a tour, I listen to their life story. Last Saturday, Emily poured out her heart. It was therapeutic for her. She told me, “No one listens to me. When I tell about my problems, they just butt in and bring up their own.” “You think that is bad,” they say,”let me tell you what happened to me.”
Listening is a skill that takes time to learn. While someone is sharing, be respectful and focused. While keeping eye contact, look below the surface of the words and ascertain what the person is saying and not saying. Ask questions to get the person to really open up. Looking at individuals as if they were the jacket of an interesting book has worked for me. Be mentored. Larry, my husband, has helped me be a better listener by pointing out how I would ask someone a question. Instead of listening to the response, I would start a conversation with someone else. I’m dismayed about my lack of sensitivity.
As Emily shared her story, tears were flowing down her cheeks. She was so grateful for a listening ear. Telling her story helped her get a grasp on her own life and the direction she should take next.
What would our world be like if we truly listened to one another and if we didn’t jump in with our opinions as soon as our friend took a breath. We would have better relationships, better communities and a better world. Let’s give it a try today.