Listening involves not only hearing, but observing--making eye contact, being mindful of non-verbal cues and body language. Listening requires being present and giving one's full attention to the speaker. If I am listening actively and reflectively, I am not formulating my response, I am not thinking about what to make for dinner, or what else I could be doing at that moment. When I am listening, I must come to the resolve that nothing matters more, in that moment, than what is on the speaker's heart. When someone is speaking, the heart is being communicated. It could be a spouse, a child, a friend, and co-worker, a sibling--whomever it is, a heart is speaking.
"You're not listening!" "You don't listen." "Listen to me!" "You don't get me." "You just don't understand." These statements are common when there is a communication roadblock and anger is evoked. As we practice being quick to listen, we slow down our natural inclination to respond or cut someone off mid-sentence. This affords us the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear and respond appropriately. Relying on the Holy Spirit is key because only God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. Only he can give wisdom on how to respond.
If your teenager, in a bout of anger and frustration, yells, "You just don't understand!!!" Rather than respond in like manner--take a moment before you respond. Look at her. Look at her body language. Look in her eyes. You will see the hurt, the pain, the frustration, the angst of being a teenager in 2015. In those moments, your response is critical. That is the time to be slow to speak, pray, and ask the Holy Spirit for help. Be open to His promptings. A gentle, "Sweetie...I see how upset your are... Or, "Hey let's go for a walk or take a ride in the car and talk" will mean everything to her, as she will feel not only heard, but valued. When we listen to a person we are conveying their value to us.
Father, I pray that you would help me become a better listener. Help me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I pray for the guidance of your Holy Spirit as I communicate with those around me, in Jesus' name. Amen.