Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Lend Me Your Ear

 Lend Me Your Ear


Have you ever known someone to be “half listening?” I’ll confess. I’ve been that person. We’ve all done it. I have actually been known to look directly at someone and instead of listening to what is being said, I’m busy thinking about some clever comeback. 


Even the Bible admonishes us to “…be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19. 


It reminds me of the old adage, “If it had been intended for [man] to talk twice as much as listen, [he] would have been given two mouths and one ear.”


Listening. It is often considered a lost art. Listening requires engagement. No, not that “nod the head” kind of engagement while you actually do something else. Listening involves eye contact, paying attention, understanding, and sometimes…on occasion… responding verbally. 


Kelsey Grammar’s character on the television show, Frazier, used the tag line “I’m Listening” for his radio talk show. 


If only we could all carry that mantra.


We can.


While at a conference in Los Angeles, my daughter had the opportunity to hear the founder of the organization called Urban Confessional, Benjamin Mathes, speak. You may have heard of the Free Listening Movement. Actually, the real opportunity for Kendall came when she, along with dozens of others hit the streets with their own “free listening” signs to listen to the stories of people they did not know. 


Strangers took advantage of the opportunity to share their stories. One older couple, curious about the sign, stopped to chat. As they spoke, the man said something about his wife. Kendall acknowledged his offering and the man shared more of the story. All around were silent as the man spoke with genuine admiration and respect for the woman by his side. His wife, tears in her eyes said softly, “I’ve never heard you talk about me like that.”


In the 1940’s and 50’s Carl Rogers put forth the notion of “active listening.” Counselors, teachers, and medical professionals still use the techniques of active listening. I love the “active listening” comically modeled on the Big Bang Theory. I’m including the YouTube link at the bottom of the post if you want a fun example of key elements identified in the technique such as paraphrasing, maintaining eye contact, restating, and questioning using key phrases. 


The program is funny, but the message is real. If we want to be heard…we must first learn to listen.


Everyone has a story to be shared… a story that matters. 


So here is the challenge: This week…this very week, lean in. Listen. Listen without comment.


This week, carry your own sign (literally or figuratively) to listen to three (3) stories from people you know. Learn something new about them. AND listen to two stories from people you do not know. 


Lean in. Listen. Three stories can change your life and the lives of those around you.




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