Daily D – Proverbs 18:13
Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. PROVERBS 18:13 (NLT)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was required reading when I worked on my last degree. This book was first published in 1989. It is still one of the best leadership books available. Habit 5 is Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. The regular, disciplined practice of this habit would solve so many problems!
We have heard preachers and parents for years tell us God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We are to listen twice as much as we talk. This is wisdom. It helps us learn. It prevents arguments. It provides clarity and mutual understanding.
There are certain things we can add to our conversational skills to help us become better at understanding other people. For example, we can learn the powerful phrase, “Help me understand.” This inquiry works on two levels. On the first level is the basic understanding of the facts at hand. This helps us make sure we are talking about the same thing.
On the second level, we find out why this issue is important to the person. We find out more about who the person is, what motivates him, or what drives her. This helps us know how to continue speaking about the issue at hand. It may also warn us away from danger.
Another couple of phrases to drop into discussions to defuse tension and to amplify understanding are “Tell me more,” and “Say more about that.” Again, these statements help people process their thoughts and feelings in a manner that makes their values stand out clearly. Again, this helps us know where to go with the conversation and what to avoid.
Before we solve a problem, it is best to know what the problem is. Before we argue a point, it is wise to know we are talking about the same thing from the same perspective.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. There is so much wisdom in these words. I wonder where they came from? Perhaps it was this proverb of Solomon or another like it.
We can avoid a great deal of shameful behavior and foolishness by putting to work the two-ears-one-mouth ratio. It is harder to stick a foot in a closed mouth.
I will listen twice as much as I speak.
Our Father, give me ears to hear. Empower me to listen at a deep level. Give me the questions and statements people need to process their thoughts where we can consider them together and shape them toward mutually agreed resolutions and solutions. Deliver me from the foolishness of speaking before I fully understand. Amen.
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Leviticus 19:32-34 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord. “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”