"Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak, and slow to become
angry" (James 1:19).
To improve our listening skills we need to listen actively and attentively.
Listening is a powerful communication tool in understanding what
people mean when they talk to us. We can then react in the correct
way, because if we understand what someone says, we will avoid the
misunderstandings that lead to fights and quarrels.
Hearing and listening are not the same thing. Hearing is the act of
listening to sounds, while listening involves our brains decoding the
sound into its meaning for us. For example, only hearing occurs
when a person has little motivation to listen carefully, such as music,
story telling, television, or being polite.
To really listen, our mind needs to pay attention. However, it is
easy for the mind to drift and thinking about other things while listening
to someone. The cure for this is active listening which involves
listening with intelligence and purpose.
It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve
problems, share interests, see how another person feels, or show support.
It requires the listener to attend to the words and the feelings of
the speaker, hear what is said and understand their meaning, and then
respond after the other person has finished speaking.
Few people know how to listen well. Most of us are too busy talking
and concerned about ourselves to take the time and effort to listen to
others. Solomon has some advice for us in Proverbs 4:20 on how we
"My son, pay attention to what I say and listen closely to my words."
Jesus also blessed His disciples because they listened, and then obeyed Him
by doing what He had commanded and taught them. The Apostle James
was one of those disciples and he wrote that we should be quick to listen,
but slow to speak and become angry (James 1:19).
Responding in the Right Way:
It's wrong to get angry with people for what you thought they said, or if
you misheard or misunderstood what they said. This does not bring
about the kind of righteous life that God desires for us. If this
often happens to you, then you need to pray and ask God to help you
listen more carefully in the future, and to be able to respond to other
people in the right way!