Baggage and Listening Well

Sometimes examples of communication can be ridiculously funny.

The Massachusetts Bar Association Journal printed the following questions that were actually asked of witnesses during a trial. Were you alone or by yourself? Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war? You were there until the time you left, is that true? Hmmmm.

How we communicate can make all the difference in the world with listening being one of the keys to success in a world full of trouble.

Someone came up with this listening formula for building successful relationships – something I could put into more practice myself.

1. Listen to the other person’s story. 2. Listen to the other person’s full story. 3. Listen to the other person’s full story first.

James also addresses the listening baggage believers bring into their relationships with other believers.

19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21 NIV

He discovered they were using inappropriate expressions of anger, which didn’t bring about the righteous life God desires. In fact, he called that communication style a “moral filth or evil” to be rid of. Being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry is James’ approach to a healthy Modus Operandi.

Erik Wiehenmayer reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 25, 2001. 90% of the climbers who attempt this feat fail. What makes Erik’s climb amazing? He’s been blind since he was 13! The reason he succeeded is because he listened well. He listened for a bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him. He listened for instructions of teammates who would shout directions to him. He listened for the sound of his pick jabbing the ice to know whether it was safe to cross. He made the summit because he listened well.

Clearly, James wants us to listen to the proverbial bell of God’s Word which can keep us from deep internal resentments and inappropriate expressions that break down a relationship. To have the listening skills of an Erik Wiehenmayer is a good thing, right?

4 thoughts on “Baggage and Listening Well

  1. your comments are so true we tend to stop listening assuming the “rest of the story we already know” and we begin responding not having “heard” the whole story. thanks for that great reminder. A battle of assumptive language we fight daily in this society.

    1. I like your term “assumptive language.” If we were talking twisted thinking, I have called it “impatient thinking” where we make decisions based upon assumptions and do not use the past as a learning tool. Thank you Lee – “assumptive language” is right on.