Abundant Living Vol. XVI, Issue 2

“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” – Proverbs 18:13 

Looking for the perfect gift to give someone special? Here’s an idea for you, and it won’t cost you a dime. All it requires is to spend some time with that person and just listen. But in order to listen – truly listen! – you must be willing to set aside your own agenda, your judgments and prejudices, and the temptation to offer your “sage advice”, allowing yourself to become totally immersed and absorbed in his or her world, not your own – just for a while. Then be prepared to be amazed how much your gift is appreciated.

We live in a noisy world where people seem to have to compete to be heard over all the clatter. It’s as if everyone is trying to speak at one time with no one taking time to listen. Listening, in fact, is in such great demand and short supply that people pay big money for it, igniting an explosion of growth in the listening professions such as my own profession of coaching where our job is to spend time in the client’s corner – not advising – but listening, partnering, and exploring possibilities, ideas, and solutions together.

It is not, however, only the listening professions where it is in such great demand. Listening is critical in every endeavor. Consider this example from my own experiences. Several months ago, I was referred to a doctor I had never seen before. As would be expected he inquired of my health history and the reason for my visit. Never, though, was I allowed to complete a sentence, as he was constantly interrupting and jumping to conclusions. Contrast that with another doctor to whom I was also referred. She too inquired of my health history and the reason for my visit, but instead she sat quietly, listening intently to my narrative while taking copious notes, hardly ever interrupting except for clarification. Both doctors came highly recommended and are well regarded within their respective specialties, but the first one I would never go back to see – ever! The second one, though? I’d go back to her without hesitation.

Listening. It won’t cost you a dime, yet it is more valuable than gold. That’s what makes it such a perfect gift to give someone special. Experiment with it and see what happens; and be prepared to be amazed how much it is appreciated. But beware of the likes of the first doctor. As the Proverb says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.”

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