Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Written by Siew Lan   


Following the sermon series on the parables led me to read the Gospels of Matthew and Mark again. What struck me during my reading was the numerous times the word ‘LISTEN’ was used. Why was it so necessary to repeat this word so often, I asked myself?  The conclusion I arrived at is that we are all poor listeners and so we have to be reminded and reminded to ‘listen’. We hear but we don’t always listen.

Mat 11:15  Let the person who has ears listen!

Mat 15:10  Then he called to the crowd and said to them, "Listen and understand!

Mar 4:9  He added, "Let the person who has ears to hear, listen!"

Mar 4:23  If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!"

A search for definitions reveals this:

Hearing (or audition) is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations via an organ such as the ear. (The inability to hear is called deafness.)

Listening is to make an effort to hear something, hear with intention, the act of hearing attentively

Active  listening is  an intent to "listen for meaning".

Active Listening is not just an automatic response to sounds. It requires us, the listeners, to understand, interpret, and evaluate what we heard. Active listening focuses attention on the speaker. Putting aside our preconceived notions and suspending judgment are important in order to fully focus on the speaker.

Communicating well isn't just about talking, but listening - taking time to listen to each other. By doing so we are less likely to try and 'mind read' each other and jump to wrong conclusions, and more likely to be able to offer each other support.

The ability to listen actively will improve personal relationship by reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, as well as fostering understanding.

Often, we do not really listen attentively to one another. We may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what we are going to say next, (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements).  Have you been in a conversation with someone but you are not really listening completely to what he has to say because you are too busy planning your response?

There must be many frustrated people out there who feel like they aren’t listened to, throwing up their arms and saying, "You just don’t get it, do you?"  Especially in a situation of conflict, the one who feels that he isn’t listened to may react defensively, or he may lash out or withdraw. On the other hand, if there is active listening and an intent to ‘listen for meaning’, an atmosphere of cooperation can be created. This increases the possibility of collaborating and resolving the conflict. In emotionally charged communications, active listening must also include listening for feelings.

Active listening helps get people to open up, avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflict and build trust.

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." - Ernest Hemingway

Following are some keys to listening well:

1. Prove you care by giving 100% attention.

2. Prove you received the message by responding.

3. Prove you understand by occasionally restating the gist of the other person’s idea or by asking a question which proves you know the main idea.

4. Prove your respect by taking the other person’s views seriously.

Listening  may seem simple, but doing it well, particularly when disagreements arise, takes true talent. As with any skill, listening well takes plenty of practice.

Comments (3)
  • amelia
    Not only true talent but also utmost patience.
  • amelia
    Just to add... was reading today and came across this.

    There are astounding lessons to be learned from the act of listening. Listening is an act of love. It is not passive; it is intentional, engaging with the heart and mind of another person. To listen you must turn off all outside distractions; say "no" to the world rushing by you. A sacred act of deliberate silence and meaningful pause, listening helps people clear a space in their life, heart, and mind in order to simply "be." Our listening is an important gift.
  • karyn
    Yes...we do well to listen to one another, listen to our family members, listen to our leaders...listen to God.
    What about listen to our society? Listen to our 'Majority Neighbours'(our fellow Malay citizens), really 'listen' and not just sweep them into one category and label them as one. Do we listen to their insecurities and bondages, do we listen to their humble and kind hearts....
    (Yes I know many of them are 'against' us...but isn't that to be expected as followers of Jesus? We can't afford to turn a deaf ear to this seemingly 'unreached' group if we're Christ's agents in Malaysia)
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