Listening Actively Using Your Heart

For some reason, this morning I’m thinking about listening. I keep running into people who listen only to hear what they want to hear. They pick up something that satisfies their feelings and go with it.

This thought goes along with the brain research that has shown that our brain is capable of believing whatever “we” tell it to believe. Leading a reflective life, we can think about our thinking and hopefully see when that happens to us and make a course correction.

I turn to examples of people who listened. One comment I overheard recently (they weren’t talking to me, but I was listening 😉 was that Jesus listened with his heart to what people said with theirs. He heard not only the words, but also the feelings, motivations, needs, desires, fears that were all part of the message.

I thought about the powerful Persian emperor who heard Nehemiah completely when he asked what was bothering him and then listened as Nehemiah explained his pain and his hope. And then the emperor provided all that Nehemiah needed to fulfill his dream of restoring the walls of Jerusalem.

Active listening means placing our complete attention on the speaker. We think nothing. We observe. What are the words? What is the tone of voice? What is the posture of the body? Where are the eyes looking? What is the context, history? Are we looking at the person? Perhaps nodding our heads as a sign that we are listening and hearing?

And we need to listen to ourselves. Have we convinced ourselves of some truth. Maybe convincing ourselves that we listened to someone when we didn’t?

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast that is a panel of technology pundits discussing the latest company and technology news in the electronics field. One of the panelists is always an outspoken evangelist of the latest gadgets. He loved Google Glass. A year ago. Then nothing happened with the product. He explained on this latest discussion his disenchantment. Another pundit said, “Kudos to you, Robert, for not only having the courage to change your mind, but also to state it publicly.”

When you listen to others, listen completely. When you listen to yourself, listen completely. Have the courage to change your mind if you find yourself in error. That happens to the best of us.

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