Last year a neighbor, who had seen some of my artwork, asked if she could commission me to do an Ink with Pen and Brush of her grandchild’s dog ‘Molly’. I agreed. This Art piece is a copy of my original.
I chose this for our Thought—Listen—because, considering her pose, I imagine Molly is listening. For many animals, listening can be a matter of life or death.
I make a distinction between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. For nearly three years I’ve worn ‘hearing aids’. They do a great job overcoming damage done to my hearing when, as a young man, I worked with certain power tools. My ‘hearing aids’ are nearly undetectable to those around me, but clearly amplify their voices. That’s a blessing for both of us!
So now, where can I purchase ‘listening aids’? As a piece of hardware (like the hearing aids) ‘listening aids’ simply don’t exist. If they did, I would be tempted to make a purchase for myself and raise funds for their purchase as a gift to all elected public officials! With this Coronavirus, systemic racial injustice and a 2020 major election year, we are ‘hearing’ a lot of talking. Unfortunately, in my opinion, too much of it is diminished to finger pointing and name calling.
I must look in the proverbial mirror and ask myself: Now that I am ‘hearing’ quite well, how about my ‘listening’ capability’? Am I really ‘listening’ to what I’m ‘hearing’? How would I know? I did a little research to help me understand my ‘listening’ challenge.
Why do we listen in the first place?
- To gain an understanding of a problematic situation that needs solving.
- To strike up a productive conversation.
- To connect with one another.
It seems to me we have to start with connecting, then we may have a productive conversation about what might be a problematic situation that needs solving. How do we do that? I came across three basic listening models:
- Competitive or combative listening: This is the type of listening done when people want to push their own type of view or opinion rather than listen to someone else’s. “My way or the highway” seems to be their only agenda. We see lots of that.
- Passive, attentive listening: In this type of listening, we are genuinely interested. We may agree with what is being said, but we are doing so in a passive manner, rather than in a reflective one.
- Active, reflective listening: We actively listen and wait to understand what the other person is saying before we try to interject what we would like to share. In this model, you first restate or share back information with the speaker, showing that you are paying attention and are actively involved.
Bottom Line: If we are truly ‘listening to gain an understanding of a problematic situation that needs solving’, “Active, reflective listening” is imperative. Also, it seems to me, two key questions must be addressed:
What is the ‘problematic situation’ from the point of view of each participant in the conversation? Listen until it is clear you are talking about the same problem. There may be more than one: Listen and reflect until there is understanding. Record the findings both can agree upon.
What is the solution (or solutions) to the agreed upon ‘problematic situation that needs solving’? Most problems in the human arena did not come about overnight. Solutions start with a mutual commitment to proceed down a path in the direction of what an agreed upon resolution may look like. Continue meeting together for evaluation and adjustments. Patience!
Hope: In view of our current (pandemic—racial injustice—political) climate, last week I saw a new political candidate interviewed, during a local newscast, that gave me hope! I know nothing about the young attorney from the Twin Cities other than this interview and his TV ads. He said, “I will listen.” That was refreshing and perhaps even rare.
“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening, when you’d have preferred to talk.” —Doug Larson
“…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
“Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand.” Matthew 15:10
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
Prayer: Lord, thank you for help with my ‘hearing aids’. Now, I need ‘listening aid’! Can I learn something from ‘Molly’?
Want a good laugh? Go to ‘Google’ or ‘YouTube’ and type in ‘Listen Linda’, click on the short video of a 3-year old in a debate about ‘listening’.