If Someone Would Only Listen
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. Psalm 27:7
Richard Senac stumbled across the great need people have for someone to listen to them. No, he isn’t a counselor. He was a hospital nurse recruiter who found that getting people up in the morning was no small task, so he started a business called Roosters, named after the barnyard creature that crows about the time the sun rises. Roosters was a telephone calling service that would awaken you in the morning with a variety of several hundred different sounds, from a 21‑gun salute to fingernails scratching on a blackboard if your starter takes something a little more bizarre to get you going in the mornings. Roosters would also put you to sleep at night with a variety of sounds.
Senac discovered the importance of having someone listen to you when one of his customers contacted him and said that he did not want to be awakened or put to sleep. He simply wanted someone to listen to him and say, "Yes!" or something like that at appropriate intervals of 30 seconds. If it were not so tragic, it would be humorous! Think of it! A recording that would respond with something like, "Yes,” “Is that right?” “Please tell me more about this; I’m really interested.”
Dr. Paul Tournier came from a different perspective. He was an internationally recognized psychiatrist and author. He believed that every person has a fundamental need: the need for someone to listen to him, to validate what he or she is saying, who he or she is. But he believed that for most of us this need is not met very well. He said, "It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to. Listen to all the conversations of the world‑‑between nations as well as those between couples. They are for the most part dialogues of the deaf." What a charge.
Interested in gaining some pointers on being a better listener? Then try these on for size: Guideline #1: Open your mind and close your mouth when you listen to another. Usually we reverse it‑‑an open mouth and a closed mind. God gave you two ears and one mouth, thereby indicating the ratio to each other by which both should be used.
Guideline #2: Concentrate on what you are hearing, not what you intend to say. This means that you wait to think about your response until the lips of the person to whom you are talking stop moving. Then it is your turn to respond.
Guideline #3: Look the person in the eye with whom you are communicating. That means you do not stare at your feet or let your eyes focus on infinity or something twenty feet beyond the other person.
Guideline #4 Stop what you are doing, if possible, to concentrate fully on hearing what the other says. There are some exceptions to this rule, especially for barbers, airplane pilots, and radio announcers, but generally it applies to you.
Guideline #5: Get the facts before you respond. Do not jump to conclusions. Proverbs 18:13 came from the pen of a man who knew a lot about human nature when he wrote, "He who answers before listening—that is his folly and shame” (Living Bible). Chances are, the conclusions you arrived at, a priori, before you heard the facts, were based on willful prejudice. “It actually was not that way at all.” Before your husband begins talking to the family dog, or he gets Richard Senac's recording of a voice which says, "Yes!" at appropriate intervals, better learn the importance of listening to each other. By the way, are you listening?
Resource reading: Psalm 27:1-14