A proud person will soon be ruined, but a humble person will be honored. Let people finish speaking before you try to answer them. That way you will not embarrass yourself and look foolish. Proverbs 18:12-13
You might think you are a very religious person. But if your tongue is out of control, you are fooling yourself. Your careless talk makes your offerings to God worthless. – James 1:26
There is a lot to be said for the power of the immediate to put everything else in perspective.
We can debate and argue and tweet and campaign and stir things up and write position-papers and lobby and rage against the machine and threaten civil war – which is all very exhausting (and, frankly, does very little in terms of moving the needle) – or we can walk to the top of the driveway and visit with the nice people who live next door.
And we can invest more personal interest, and time, and attention in actual people, engaging with and improving the community where we live; our neighborhood, our church, our school, our town.
Then, as we immerse ourselves in real people, and learn who they are and how they live, then maybe we will begin to listen to one another rather than talking at each other across this chasm of misinformation, this brain short-circuit of party line, these end-runs around critical-thinking, the avoidance of thoughtful analysis, these pre-packaged shrink-wrapped canned talking points, the mind-numbing torrent of deceptive memes, the dark void of self-rightness and knee-jerk confrontation.
- this chasm of misinformation,
- this brain short-circuit of party line,
- these end-runs around critical-thinking,
- the avoidance of thoughtful analysis,
- these pre-packaged shrink-wrapped canned talking points,
- the mind-numbing torrent of deceptive memes,
- the dark void of self-rightness and knee-jerk confrontation.
Listening takes intention:
Over the years I have formally interviewed literally tens of hundreds of people. That experience, plus my natural curiosity when it comes to learning, has made me a decent listener. Not only that but I have actively served as a trained small group leader for more than twenty-five years.
What I’m saying is that listening is so much more important than spouting off!
One researcher in the field of active listening wrote that people who practice listening skills are well-liked and – as an added bonus – they also tend to learn something!
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.” — Wilson Mizner
This, friends, is huge! How many people do you know who have had their hearts and minds changed because someone repeatedly bludgeoned them with an “I’m right you’re wrong” tirade? No, of course not! What typically happens is retrenchment, anger, doubling down, and more polarization.
But active listening? That is something different altogether. Active listening does not simply keep quiet and passively take information in; active listeners hear, they restate content to make sure they have the correct information, and they ask questions to clarify.
Such engagement is interested in the other person and in understanding their life, their passion, and their point of view. Active listening almost always leads to dialogue with the chasm of diatribe bridged by actual communication.
If we want to move the needle, then now we’re talking.
So back to the power of the immediate. These neighbors happen to be my parents. But all my neighbors are my sisters and brothers. Same goes for yours too.
Peace – and I mean that in every possible way – DEREK