Relationships – we all have them with family, friends, co-workers, church members, school friends, the list goes on and the words written about relationships are almost interminable. It appears that there has been more written on relationships than any other subject in the world.
Take the Bible for instance, the main theme in the Old Testament which continues into the New Testament is God’s relationship with His chosen people and also the people’s relationships with one another.
Today’s Women’s magazines are filled with articles on how to communicate more effectively in our intimate relationships. Sort of “How to get people to give you what you want when you don’t know what to ask.” We know that relationships and communication go hand-in-hand you cannot have one without the other. (Not a lasting or meaningful relationship anyway.)
In our present world we have conflict, 50% of marriages, even Christian ones, end in divorce. Communication has irretrievably broken down and the two wounded formerly married souls go out into the world seeking solace from other broken-hearted souls, who have been wounded by life and love.
Where did the openness to listen and learn from one another go?
Indeed we can ask ourselves honestly, was that openness in communication ever there?
Everything in life has a growth cycle. We humans are no different, to grow we need food, light, water, oxygen and love. Without all these things we die. Our minds similarly need to be fed, by being stimulated with new information or else they will wither and die too. We do not ever know everything we need to know on any particular subject, as long as the world exists there also exists the expansion of knowledge on every subject under the sun.
Human beings have a need to matter and to be heard. Our voices are our own and each voice is unique and deserves to speak its truth and to have that truth heard and shared with others. We tend to talk more than we listen, but we learn more when we listen to others without interruption. Each voice is precious. Mine no more than yours, yours no more than mine.
When we make up our minds about situations or people, we have closed ourselves off to receiving new information. Inside a closed mind is an unhealthy place to live.
Communication can be described as me telling you how I feel and you hearing and understanding what I said from my point of view. Then you tell me how you feel, I listen and clarify to make sure I understand your perspective. I may not agree with what you say, and you may not agree with what I say but at least we have made the effort the listen and understand each others point of view on the matter at hand. Each person in a relationship deserves to be heard with respect and with the full attention of the other person.
Listening is of primary importance, the person speaking desires to be heard, and the listener will grow and learn from exercising the discipline of actively listening to the speaker. Communication can be improved by listening more and speaking less. It is respectful to pay complete attention to the speaker, not just their words, but their body language, the emphasis they place on certain words and their emotions that become evident as they speak.
The best listeners are empathetic, and empathy is a key component in fact a vital component in relationships. When we listen with an open mind and open heart we have the ability to place ourselves in the other persons situation, which is the only true way to understand why he or she is holding true to their perspective. The more we decide to listen with our hearts the deeper our relationships become.
There is a gift in listening, it shows respect to the person speaking, furthermore when we bite back our tendency to interrupt and decide to truly focus on the speaker’s words, we receive the gift of patience and knowledge, we have stretched ourselves. Perhaps what we have heard will not only benefit ourselves but humankind as a whole.
Listening is an act of love, let us practice it with due diligence, in our prayer life with God, in our family life and with our friends, with strangers who pass our way, once in a lifetime, everyone loves a good listener. Everyone has a story that needs to be listened to and shared.
(C) Marion Sinclair-Simpson