by Zoey Jones
Recently, I've been reading about relationships. Everything from dating to generation gaps. I noticed that the one word that occurs repeatedly in almost any discussion of relationships is ‘communication.' If we're not communicating, chances are we aren't developing balanced and healthy relationships.
Naturally, there have been volumes and volumes written on how to communicate effectively. There are seminars dedicated exclusively to the subject and better communication is the basis for most relationship counselling. In all of my reading though, there was one brief thought that struck me as the most meaningful of everything I had read. It is attributed to Paul Tillech, a German theologian (1886 to 1965) who quite simply said, “The first duty of love is to listen."
In an effort to help us all communicate better through listening, I've compiled several tips on how to be a better listener.
- Give the person your full attention.
- Try to listen from the point of view of the speaker.
- Let the person finish what they have to say before you begin thinking about what you plan to say in return.
- Don't cut the person off when they are speaking.
- Be polite even if you disagree.
- Remember that it's important to express your feelings, but realize that they have strong feelings as well.
Loneliness and uncertainty can creep up on all of us, but it's what we do about it and not what we dwell upon that will eventually make a difference. My plan is to invest more time in my relationships with my first priority being to turn down my internal voice, listen intently to the other person and think with my heart. The rest should take care of itself.
Listen and love lots.