Character Creates Opportunity® – The Hard Work of Listening: July 23, 2015

Let’s face it, there is a lot of chatter in our world.  Whether it is on the television, through the internet, in various social settings, at work, etc.  We hear a lot of chatter.

With so much noise and information around us (along with less than an optimal amount of sleep), we have a natural coping mechanism to just tune things out or engage in very superficial dialogue without truly listening.  Our most common reaction is to sit still and endure it, just like we did doing a boring class in school.

Many times, our filtering mechanism for all the chatter goes overboard and we lose the important skill of really listening when it matters most.  As we continue our journey to build and strengthen our character, the discipline to listen is an important element for having a positive impact on those around us.Family is disconnected image

Many psychologists would say that there is an unfortunate pattern for many of us in that we can carry on, with a pleasant disposition, our activities outside of the home whether that is with friends, at school, work, or various social activities.  We seem to blend in well and minimize or eliminate any attempts to rock the boat.  However, when it comes to our home life, the description of most family therapists, pastors, and relationship experts would commonly say that it is in the home where the disposition changes, the willingness to endure weakens and many times, all you know what breaks loose.

The same can be said about listening.  Many times, we take a more active role in listening to a customer, a colleague at work, a friend on the street, or even that really boring teacher, but when it comes to those closest to us, we are relatively quick to downgrade our listen skills.

There is no doubt that the volume of information coming at us will continue to increase over time.  Very few of us would find “getting off the grid” to be a productive solution to our problems with listening.  Given this reality of increasing information and noise in our world, we need to take hold of a few truths about the importance of listening in order to have a positive impact on those around us.

  1. Listening shows others that we care. Asking questions to ensure understanding, maintaining eye contract, acknowledging the information being shared, etc. takes effort and focus.
  2. Listening is the gateway to understanding. Improved understanding helps us see through the veil of “I am ok” to uncover the real issues impacting someone around us.
  3. We can’t listen to everything or everybody. The reality is that there is a lot of noise out there that needs to be filtered.  We should choose to filter most of it in order to focus our efforts on those we care about most.

As we do the hard work of listening, especially with those closest to us in our home, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to have a positive impact on those around us.