By Lauren Abraham
College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student, Bachelor of Arts in Communications
Growing up, we were taught how to express ourselves in the form of speech. In fact, it is one of the first things we learn to do as a child. While it is important to have this skill in order to communicate with others, I believe listening is a skill that is just as important.
Unfortunately, the value of this skill is often overlooked in today’s society. The noisy world we live in is also filled with different kinds of people trying to voice their opinions.
Listening and Relationships
Listening is an important aspect of interpersonal relationships. When someone feels listened to, they feel loved and understood. Their feelings are validated and they are often able to gain a deeper understanding of who they are.
But how do we listen well? There is a distinct difference between “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing is a process that involves simply perceiving sound, but listening requires you to perceive this sound with deliberate intention (Active Listening, 2014).
Active listening is what makes good communication possible. When someone is an active listener, they make an effort to truly hear what the other person is saying. They put aside all distractions and give their full attention to the speaker. This can look like something as simple as putting your phone aside when listening to a friend. In addition, there is nonverbal communication to show listening, such as posture and facial expressions (Active Listening, 2014).
Active listening doesn’t mean completely staying silent. It’s important to provide the speaker with feedback, such as asking clarifying questions or summarizing what the speaker just said. By doing this, the speaker has the chance to clarify what they mean and knows that the listener truly does want to understand what they just said (Active Listening, 2014).
It’s important to remember that being a good listener doesn’t mean you agree with everything the speaker is saying. However, through being an active listener, you will better be able to more fully understand the view of others. By doing this, I’ve found I am able to better formulate my opinion on the topic as well.
Ultimately, active listening leads to stronger and healthier relationships for both the speaker and listener.
A Christian Perspective
The importance of listening is discussed in the Bible. James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”
As Christians, we are to listen to others before making judgments or assumptions. We are to remain open-minded and acknowledge that we may not know everything like we think we do.
Furthermore, Proverbs 18:2 says, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” This emphasizes the importance of putting yourself aside in order to fully understand the views of others.
There are also many places in the Bible that talk about the importance of listening to God. After all, He is the creator of the universe. John 10:27-28 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them from me.”
Our sinful nature tells us to listen to ourselves; therefore, we often fight against listening to God. However, there is great reward for those who faithfully listen. He truly knows what is best for us, and when we submit to Him, He will guide our path.
A Challenge to You
My challenge to you would be this: Pay attention to how you listen to others. Do you often find yourself checking out when people are talking to you? Or, do you simply wait for an opening to interject and state your opinion? The key to becoming an active listener is to practice. No one will ever become a perfect listener, but with practice, you will see improvements in your relationships.
Communication is a valuable skill in all areas of life. Grand Canyon University offers a variety of liberal arts degrees through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, including a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Request more information today!
Active Listening. (2014). University of Adelaide.
More about Lauren:
Lauren Abraham is a junior at Grand Canyon University. She was born and raised in Phoenix and enjoys living here. She has loved her time at GCU so far, as she has made many friendships and discovered what she is passionate about. Currently, she is studying communications with a minor in marketing. She has always loved writing and working with people, and one day hopes to become an editor or journalist. She is also fascinated by social media, and is currently a social media intern for the Welcome to the America Project, which is an organization that helps newly resettled refugees in Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys staying active and spending time with her family and friends.