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THE ART OF LISTENING

by Mary Frances Hansen



There is a difference between hearing and listening.


Webster dictionary defines hearing as the “process, function, or power of receiving sound; specifically: the special sense by which noises and tones are received as stimuli.” Listening, on the other hand means “to pay attention to sound; to hear something with thoughtful attention; and to give consideration.” The Bible in the book of James 1:19 admonishes, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.”


Words have incredible power and they can hurt or heal. Choosing the right words will have quite an affect on a person. Words are like a bullet in a gun, once you fire them you can't take them back.


Hearing has more to do with the physiological act of hearing sounds than it does with making sense and connecting with the person who is talking to you. Listening involves the whole person's mind, heart and soul.


If you are a good listener, you find yourself being more attentive, and listening to what a person is saying. There is much wisdom in listening.


When someone is speaking..... listen completely and with compassion. Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher quoted, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”


Think about this wonderful quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Listen with only one purpose to give the other person a chance to empty their heart!” To build a good rapport with people, we need to be a great listener.


The more you listen, the more people will talk and feel like you really care about them. Listening is the key to effective communication. If we don't listen effectively, the message might be misunderstood.


I will admit when someone is talking and they say something that triggers a thought in me, sometimes I find myself interrupting. This is not being be a good listener, in fact,

this is disrespectful. One of the most important forms of respect is to listen to what another person is saying and make his/her a priority as you listen.


I find myself doing this especially to my family. My daughter said to me one day when we were having a serious conversation, “Mother don't interrupt me when I am trying to explain something to you!” WOW.....she made we realize I need to learn to listen more and talk less!

Listening is an art and there is a big difference between truly listening and waiting for your turn to talk. A pertinent quote by, Poet Dean Jackson, “Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.”


Being a good listener will build healthy relationships. In order to maintain a meaningful relationship we must learn to listen. Listening requires concentration so that your brain can process meaning from words and sentiments.


As human beings, we all have a need to feel we are being heard and understood. When a person is suffering, they need someone to listen to them. A good listener will have a desire of the heart and a genuine empathetic attitude to help someone. This is a real act of kindness.

Empathetic and therapeutic listening is the type of listening that will help you to understand with emotions and this will help the person you are listening to. Sometimes a person just needs to vent his/her frustrations or problems. Often times we simply will be a sounding board for them.


Focus on what they are saying with attention and don't interrupt. Listening is often the only thing needed to help someone. “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you had preferred to talk.” Doug Larson (Columnist and Editor)


My goal is to become a better listener and not interrupt when someone is talking to me.

In a technological age, I find it personally rewarding and exciting to write articles and become more knowledgeable. We are never too old to stop learning and I love looking up meaningful quotes.


As I continue to grow older, I want to better myself by becoming a better Christian, wife, mother and friend. It is such a joy to share my heart with my readers and hopefully, some of my articles will inspire others.


Stay strong, Stay safe, and Keep the faith!

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