The art of listening means trading in accusations and assumptions for grace and genuine, heart-seeking questions. As Believers carrying the grace of God within us, our conversations – including speaking and listening, both written and oral communication- should always, always be gracious.
He didn’t draw a heart.
If I was young and hip, I might phrase that as OMG!!!! He didn’t draw a heart!?!? WTH?
Since I’m a little ole granny, I’ll spare you the dramatics.
He didn’t draw a heart.
Instead, this is what I saw when I stumbled into the kitchen to reheat the coffee that he left by my bedside:
If I “listened” to his message incorrectly, I might have felt condemnation, or belittlement. After all, it wasn’t accompanied by a heart and the letters HH like most of his notes are. And it was pointing out the broccoli I left in the microwave overnight. I could have read it as “I’m beyond rehabilitation and he’s upset with me.”
Instead I giggled.
I pictured my husband opening the microwave to reheat his coffee and having a bag of broccoli greet him with its, um, identifying scent. As I mentioned in a recent post, it helps when we know the person we are “listening” to. And I know my husband doesn’t get mad at me for the endless little annoying habits I have. (I think his super power is “The Ability to Live With Marie Without Going Crazy.”)
About the broccoli.
Last night, as we sat down with heaping plates of nachos, I remembered the broccoli in the microwave, the bag I cooked last minute because I was craving some veggies. “Ugh! I forgot to grab the broccoli,” I grimaced. Since it was just the two of us, we were settled on the reclining couch, with the evening news just starting and I was pretty comfortable. “We can have it for dessert!” I cleverly problem solved, knowing the HH wasn’t as interested in the broccoli anyway.
I promptly delved into the nachos and all visions of broccoli left my mind.
Not the first time I forgot a dinner vegetable in the microwave, and surely not the last time.
The point? (I do try to make one 🙂 )
As I read my husband’s message and “listened” to his words, I read them with grace. And they made me smile.
Far too often, we listen without grace.
And this is one of the greatest hindrances to effective communication and good relationships.
Might I make a suggestion? Instead of thinking the worst, assume the best? And if you are unsure, ask questions. Not accusatory questions, but genuine I really want to hear your heart questions.
Recently one of my daughters “liked” something on Facebook, a photo with accompanying words that at first glance I, personally, wasn’t too keen on. But instead of pouncing on her with accusations, I asked a question. Can you explain that photo to me?
And I was totally blown away, totally wowed by the depth of her understanding of human nature and what the words meant. She gave me something I’ve been chewing on for a while:
Our first thoughts come automatically, usually stemming from society and such. But our second thoughts? Our second thoughts are what matter the most because they show what we long to be, what we are doing to change our thinking process.
( You can check out 2 Corinthians 10:5 for what the Word says on taking our thoughts captive. )
We can definitely apply this to how we listen. When we first hear something, we might have an automatic response to the words. We need to take enough time to think them through. Apply a liberal dose of grace. Ask questions.
And then we might find ourselves hearing something different, something delightful, something endearing.
The art of listening means trading in assumptions and accusations for grace and genuine questions. As Believers carrying the grace of God within us, our conversations – including speaking and listening, both written and oral communication – should always, always be gracious.
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 NASB
Oh yeah…about that forgotten broccoli? It made for a delightful breakfast:
Grateful for this abundant life,
Marie with a 🙂