Are you listening or are you just hearing?
Hearing is just having sound hit your ear. Listening takes hearing to the next level. You must consciously work to understand what that sound is that hits your ear and interpret the information. It is easy to hear because you don’t have to work. It is harder to listen.
When you are in a conversation, are you hearing or listening? Do you actually know what the other person is saying or do their words go in one ear and out the other? Think about a typical conversation. Do you do all of the talking or is there a balance? Do you find that people know more about you than you know about others?
You will miss out on opportunities if you are always talking or only hearing. A friend may be going through a tough time or need something. If you are too busy talking about yourself then you will have no idea what others need. If you don’t actually listen to what other people say, you will miss the opportunity to serve those who need you.
Maybe you have someone that you don’t get along with. Instead of assuming you will never agree, take the time to listen to them. Learn their background, know their interests, and understand why they think what they do. Maybe you will change your mind about them. Often, “we are more distant than different.” Grow closer to them by listening. Decrease that distance and maybe you will see that you are less different.
Many people use “How are you?” or “What’s up?” as common salutations. These phrases are used so commonly that we respond with surface level answers. Greet people with a different phrase:
“Tell me something good.”
“How was your test?”
“What do you have going on this week?”
Learn what is going on with others and ask about it. Find out what events are happening this week and ask about them next week. This requires that you listen and remember things about others. You can do it, I believe in you.
We all have people that we spend time with whom we know nothing about. There are teammates and classmates that we interact with every week, but we don’t know anything about them. We may not even know their names. There are people we have spent hours with, but we don’t know how many siblings they have. I challenge you to get to know someone you see frequently even better.
Listen to others. Don’t just hear. Be observant. Opportunities to help others surround you. Decrease the distance.
Make a sum: add to the lives of those around you, don’t take away from them.