Listening - and actually hearing - is a discipline and practice that can help you grow and develop like few other practices. It is a sign of good emotional intelligence and of a secure, non-threatened individual. It also sends a strong message that those around us are important and that their voice counts. It is a posture of humility and valuing the worth of others.
Many people do not listen to others. They hear but they don't actually listen to what others are saying. Not listening is a sign of immaturity at the least and arrogance at the worst. We can be too busy, think we have the answers, don't want to hear what is being said or are perhaps threatened by what someone is saying.
Those who do not listen often pay a steep price. They do not hear personal feedback that would enable them to grow, advice that would keep them out of the ditch, feedback that could act as an early warning system that something is not right, counsel that can help them do what they do better or just information that would allow them to make better decisions.
The book of proverbs has a word for those who don't listen: fool. I don't like that word. Ironically, those who don't listen see themselves as wise - they have the answers. But the reality is that they are foolish and eventually pay the price for their foolishness!
Wise individuals do listen. They listen to those who agree with them and those who do not. They listen to good news and bad news. They actively seek counsel, opinion, feedback, and want to know what others are thinking. They are secure enough to know that even negative feedback is often really positive feedback because it allows them to grow.
Insecure individuals - the fool in Proverbs - would rather not know, or hear, or face the reality of what others might think. It is a trajectory that will eventually end up in the ditch, with a whole lot of pain.
The discipline of listening - and really hearing others - is a posture of humility that understands and communicates:
-I don't have all the answers
-I want to hear your opinion
-I am open to your feedback
-I need your counsel
-It is not about me but about us
-I want to be more effective
-I would rather know about bad news than not know - even if it is painful to me
-I want to keep learning and growing
-I do not need to be right
-I have nothing to prove and nothing to lose
-There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors
One last thought. In order to listen we need to take the time. Those who don't take the time to listen to those around them are as foolish as those who don't want to listen to others. Both have the same effect.
How well are you doing in the discipline, practice, art, humility, of listening?