Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Speak, I'm Listening

I am a terrible listener.

People who know me know that this is true. When I am in a conversation, I want to guide where we are headed and even when others speak, I am trying to complete their thoughts. Sometimes, I don't complete their thoughts correctly and I hear something they didn't intend.

It's hard. In my job I spend a lot of time filling in the blanks and figuring out how to bridge the holes in information, and so when people speak to me, I do much the same thing--my mind is racing so fast to understand that I miss nuances in the conversations. Sometimes, I miss whole conversations.

This whole idea is a carry over from church this past Sunday. One of the readings was from 1 Samuel. I know, 1 Samuel is not one of those books a lot of us spend much time studying--but i actually remembered this passage and as it was being discussed, I tuned out and had my own bit of reflection on the verse:

3:10 Then the Lord came and stood nearby, calling as he had previously done, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening!” - NET Bible

The cool part about this is that the Lord had called Samuel three previous times and Samuel had run to his mentor, Eli, responding that he was here because he did not recognize that it was the Lord, God who was calling to him and thought it was Eli. After the third time, Eli figured out what was occurring and told Samuel to say simply, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

Here is the take away that I got. Even God waits for us to acknowledge Him and to tell him that we are ready to listen. It was not until Samuel was ready to listen that God proceeded to tell Samuel what he had on His mind.

When I give, even silently in my mind, the go ahead for someone to speak because I am listening then I am a better listener because I am ready to receive and process what the speaker is saying--without having my mind racing ahead and filling in holes that don't yet exist.

So to become a better listener when engaging in conversation, I need to take a breath and mentally prepare for the conversation by saying to myself: speak, I'm listening.

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