Listen…did you hear that?

The biggest communication problem we have is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. 

I wrote down this phrase in my notes because I thought it was powerful and something that I need to remind myself regularly. I only wish I knew where I heard this so I could give proper credit. But regardless of who said it first, the statement, I believe, is nonetheless true.

How many times have you caught yourself thinking of the answer you intend to give even before the other person pauses to take a breath? I know I’m guilty. How often have I sat quietly listening to someone else share, mainly because I count on them giving me the same courtesy when it’s my turn. Sadly, we are often not really that interested in what someone is saying to us. But we sure hope that what we say has the desired impact and dazzles the other party.

Sigh…If most people think this way, I suspect not much will ever get done.

There have been books written and seminars taught (and probably a lot of money made) on effective communication. I doubt I will share anything here that hasn’t been said a thousand times before and probably in more compelling ways.

So let me offer this simple reminder. Whatever you want to accomplish, whatever goals you desire to achieve, whether, in business, finances, ministry, or relationships, you likely will not achieve these goals alone. You need other people – you need to work with other people…and people out there also need you. And anytime we are forced to work together, that requires communication.

When communication is a contest where you “win” by getting someone to agree, listen to you more, or succumb to your way of thinking, I submit you’ve already lost.

My wife and I sometimes meet with young couples contemplating marriage to do pre-marital counseling. I let both sides know that their goal in communication is not to for one side to win but that the marriage wins. Both sides, working and communicating together so that the relationship thrives. That is a higher, more noble objective than for either side to get their way or win over their partner to their way of thinking.

So the next meeting, or intense conversation you have, go into that conversation with the goal not that you will “convince” the other person. Instead, listen to genuinely HEAR the other person. You should both be clear in the objective of working together to accomplish or achieve whatever sparked the need for the conversation. When you do that – then a communication “win” is indeed possible.

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