We are told that we can speak 125 – 150 words a minute, but typically we think around 300 words a minute. Those numbers themselves provide an inward conflict with the act of listening. High school and college campus’s run courses on public speaking, but when is the last time you had the opportunity to sign up for a public listening course? Most of us want to talk and be listened to rather than take the concentration needed to stop and really hear someone. I heard someone say recently that hearing is a function of the ear, but listening is a function of your will.
When we listen we are exercising an expression of love. We are saying this person is important enough to me to be listened to. Proverbs has a way of cutting to the chase when it says, “ He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13) If we are constantly interrupting our spouse in order to interject our “important” thought, we have stopped listening and are thinking about our reply. Do you realize people pay counselors $150.00 and more for fifty minutes of their time and feel better when leaving their office? Some even fall in love with their therapist just because they feel validated and cared for. What was the therapist’s secret? He/she listened. James admonished us to be quick to listen and slow to speak…pretty good advice for 2013. Try it; you’ll be amazed at the results.