“Hearing is a function of the ear.
Listening is a function of the heart.”
My dad could fix anything! If my bike broke, I could still hear him saying, “Bring it here and let me take a look at it.” People brought all kinds of stuff to my dad to fix. To a scruffy haired, skinny six-year-old, it seemed that my Dad could do anything, especially fix things. I decided I wanted to grow up and be just like him!
When I did grow up, I thought I could “fix” people as well. If someone came to me with a problem, it was my job, my duty as a “counselor” to help them fix their problems. After all, fixing things comes naturally to guys, right?
Unfortunately, guys are so quick to try to fix the problem. Sometimes – more often that we would like to admit – we give our solution before we really understand what the problem is. What I have learned is that men tend to be too goal oriented. Motivated by feeling significant, and our significance tends to be measured by what we accomplish.
When it comes to our families, especially our wives and daughters, they tend to be very relationship oriented. What they need most from us is a “loving ear” that is willing to listen first and foremost. King Solomon referred to this as a “hearing heart” in his prayerful request for help in leading his nation. Our families aren’t as interested in getting the job done as they are in strengthening meaningful communication.
So why are men, such poor listeners? Maybe it’s because you’re too absorbed with yourself or the “project” you’re trying to accomplish this week. Perhaps it’s because you consider yourself above instruction within your own home or that you think that you already know all the answers. Maybe it’s because you have never placed much value on listening. Whatever the reason, you need to reevaluate the importance of listening.
Listening takes time, energy, and a lot of patience. It requires you to focus on what is being said, instead of impatiently forming an answer while the other person is still talking.
You have to train yourself to listen with more than your ears. It would be best if you listened with your eyes. Do you see the other’s pain, fear, anger, or joy? You must listen with your heart. Do you feel the emotion that they are feeling? Do you sense how important this is to them?
Listening also validates the other person. Through listening, you give a part of yourself to others. Listening allows another person to touch you emotionally. Listening makes you vulnerable. Listens says that maybe you are wrong. Perhaps you do need to change. Listening is truly loving, giving, and accepting.
I talk to frustrated fathers of teenagers who tell me, “My kid won’t talk to me!” I often ask, “Do you listen, or are you quick to judge every casual comment with an ‘I’d better fix this’ kind of response?”
Your child needs to feel free and safe to discuss important issues with you. If you are so busy reacting as “Mr. Fix-it,” you cut off the very life-blood of the relationship – listening. Young people talk about many things they never intend to do, but if we react without genuinely listening, we cut off the open communication we desperately seek.
Relational listening is often non-responsive. What you need to understand is that maybe they really don’t expect or need a solution from you, but they do need your attention. You can and should offer suggestions and share your opinions if asked…after you have truly heard their heart.
Listening communicates to our loved ones, “You are important to me. I truly care.”
Sometimes after listening, all they need from you is a hug, not fixing.
I hope today’s blog has encouraged you. Make sure you sign up to receive blogs posted every Tuesday and Thursday. TransformingFamilies.org resources are designed to guide you through the restoration process of developing your heart, mind, and strength, enabling you to become the man God created you to be.
I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you want to improve your relationships, let’s connect through e-mail at ‘email@example.com’. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.