From the Evangelist desk July 2012.
How many of us really, truly listen?
Within certain areas of my life I often find myself forming my responses to another person before they have even got half way through what they are saying, or explaining. One could say that I am staying one step ahead of them. Giving a quick response to show how knowledgeable I am.
With others I find that I try to finish their sentences for them because sometimes they are slow to speak.
I have been told that I am a good speaker; even dare I say good addresses during the Sunday Service. In this area of my life I can confirm that I am a good listener. Before giving any address I spend time in prayer to the Lord asking that He will fill me with the Words that He wishes me to speak to others. When delivering an address from the readings, I will spend time in prayer and ask the Lord to open my mind to what He wishes me to say. Then like a flood all becomes clear and thoughts and points to share come rushing at me like a flood.
At work I have been asked to identify what makes me successful in some areas and not so successful in others. A hard question I hear you ask. But this is something that I needed to address. And believe it or not in many ways it comes back to listening.
You see when I analysed what I was successful at, it revolved around people, all the time, at church, serving within the community, Trade Union activities. They all revolve around human beings and trying to help other. People assume that I have great knowledge about people matters, but truth be told, my knowledge is knowing where to source the material needed, albeit written or speaking with others. But I am able to obtain an answer.
Where am I less successful? Believe it or not I am not that good with systems and processes. Strange because I enjoy working with computers, putting together word documents, presentations and enhancing photographs. I enjoy using the Ipod for music and relaxation. I enjoy playing the odd game on the computer. But within the computer there are process activities. These include various aspects to do with work. I draw a blank every time I try to undertake any task to build on and renew this process.
There are also other processes, for example, Supply Chain. I have worked within Supply Chain for a number of years, but to my surprise I do not understand much about the company process flow of Supply Chain. I have always dealt with the people, which is where my strength is.
Now I must try and learn the processes to undertake my role within the company. This is hard because I feel very uncomfortable with systems and processes as I have already said. If I find something wrong with a person I can ask a question and listen to the answer and move on from there. With a process there is no one to ask, and with a few of the systems and process I am working on now, they do not even have a manual to read.
How can I get over this problem? I have spent some time mulling this over in my mind over the weekend prior to writing this article and it came to me. Use my strengths with people to help fill the weaknesses I have with systems and processes. But I must make sure that I listen to what they have to say, make notes and learn from them.
Because a,: Proverbs 18:13 states: (NIV)
13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
I must learn to bite my tongue and listen to what is being taught. Make notes and learn, otherwise I will waste both their time and mine, which of course will lead to folly and shame because I will not be able to learn what is needed to be learnt for me to undertake some of the tasks set before me.
We must all be ready to lend an ear to others and to listen is a great art and one that we can use to help build the Kingdom of God.
Yours in Christ.