“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)
If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences or your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating.
Instead of listening to respond, listen to understand their perspective. Hear their side of the story. Listen for what is bothering them. Listen to how they feel about the situation. Seek to understand them. Even during conflict, you can listen to understand.
Prayer: God, thank you for the reminder to not always think of myself. Help me to listen to understand others. Remind me throughout the day when I’m listening to respond instead of understand. In Jesus name. Amen.