Reposted from Radical Mentoring
I reconnected with an old friend recently and as we talked, I was totally distracted by something he kept doing. No matter what I said, his response was “I know.” I mean he hadn’t said it but two or three times before it started to really bother me. It was all I could do to hold myself back. I wanted to say, “No, you don’t know . . . I haven’t even finished my thought!” It felt like either he wasn’t interested in what I was saying or he was so arrogant he thought he knew everything. No big deal. Conversation ended. I blew it off. We’re still friends and I didn’t try to fix him.
But then I started catching myself saying the same thing to my wife. She’s telling me things I (sort of) know or don’t really care about or don’t want to hear and I’m stiff-arming her with “I know.” I hear my voice saying those words and realized how it must have made her feel. They’re a bad couple of words to use in conversation. “I know” doesn’t invite more conversation, it shuts it down. When we’re talking to our wives, or better yet, when they’re talking to us, we must train ourselves to listen. “Living with your wife in an understanding way” means studying her . . . learning when, why and how she likes to talk to you and giving her the gift of your time and undivided attention. When she’s upset, the last thing she wants to hear come out of your mouth is “I know.” Her response could be “Well if you know, why are you still ignoring what I’m saying to you!” Not good. It’s far better to listen, be empathetic to her feelings, nod your head, ask clarifying questions and avoid being defensive or argumentative.
We have a lot of other phrases we use to ‘punt’ the conversation and move forward. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” or “Uh-huh, I get it” or “sure” . . . or we simply step on the person’s words with our next thought as our ‘get this over with’ strategy.
The authors of the Bible don’t include much of the dialogue that took place either before or after Jesus spoke. But if there was ever a guy who could have said “I know” and be telling the truth it was Him! Yet I can’t imagine Jesus using those words in conversation.
Listening is loving, especially in a ‘house afire’ culture where everyone is overloaded and nobody has time for anything. Jesus said, “I desire compassion over sacrifice.” Giving people time to talk and then really listening to them shows compassion even though for you, it might require sacrifice.
A man is defined by the words that come from his mouth. If you want to be defined as God wants you to be, you’ll show your love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control by listening . . . really listening.
Scripture: For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)