“The first duty of love is to listen.” Wow, that quote by Paul Tillich held my attention from the moment I read it. Then the slight twinge of guilt followed as I evaluated myself. “How good of a listener am I?” The last two years in my new business have been fast paced and extremely demanding – physically, emotionally and financially. It seemed as if I didn’t have enough time to really listen to me much less anyone else. But, how does that affect the people who matter to me? I think of my fiancé, my family, my team, my close friends and most importantly, GOD. How well am I listening?
As a relationship coach and talk show host, I’ve had the privilege to invest hours listening to persons share their thoughts and concerns. Yet, I hold myself in contempt when it comes to how well I have listened otherwise.
For example, I love my ‘special lady’ and my folks and make it a point to tell them. Yet, as I look more closely at my level of listening, I become more self-critical. I’m not saying that I don’t listen but rather that good isn’t good enough when you can do better. In the words of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”
So I challenge you as I commit to being an effective listener. More so, an ‘active listener.’ Starting with my spiritual life. My level of listening impacts the quality of my life and relationships. By the way, your level affects yours too. Active listening can be compared to the way the pores of our skin opens in response to hot water vapour. It expands our awareness as it benefits both the sender and receiver. Relationship experts Linda & Charlie Bloom says ‘The Three Magic Words in Relationships‘ are ‘communication, communication, communication.’ They say that in good communication, speaking is only half of the equation. The other is listening.
With active listening by all involved, relationships become stronger as friends and love ones see life through each other’s eyes. Stress levels lower. Arguments and misunderstandings are avoided or amicably resolved. Conversely, failing to actively listen can corrupt even the most promising relationship.
What is active listening? Essentially, it is the act of making someone else the priority by focusing your attention on understanding and validating their message, even if their view differs from yours. In his article ‘Become a Better Listener,’ psychologist, Dr. John M. Grohol says active listening is all about building rapport, understanding, and trust.
Hence, I will hold my tongue and open my ears to honour my special lady. To be her safe harbor where she can freely express her thoughts, hopes and dreams. I will set aside distractions and decidedly listen to my love ones and to my inner voice. I will make it a part of my daily life to listen to GOD as he speaks to my heart. Ours is a commitment to actively listening to each other. Are you already committed to the same?
What you do Matters. ~ Kirk Johnson