Linda, Linda, You’re Not Listening!

  • Randy Karlberg
Two people holding up a dog's large ears

In 2015 a three-year-old boy was recorded trying to convince Linda to listen to him.  He is very cute, and he is articulate for a three-year-old, even if you can’t understand everything he is claiming.  Trying to comprehend his line of thinking is very amusing.  He goes on and on with his line of defense as to why he should not get a spanking.  We then are told the reason he is going to get a spanking, thus the ardent line of defense, is because he was trying to climb and sneak cupcakes for his dinner.   In the video, you also have the predictable blame shifting to his buddy Kevin.  His mannerisms are hilarious!  What is also hilarious, and a bit disturbing, is that “Linda” the woman he is arguing with is actually his mother!  Well, this YouTube video has almost 1 million views and has made a celebrity out of a young boy.  Take a quick watch on the link below.  Linda, you’re not listening… 

Hopefully I have caught your attention now.  I think that our society could use some advice on listening skills because we don’t seem to do a very good job of listening to each other today.  I have many people who bring their thoughts and ideas to me.  Most of these conversations are calm, however some show the level of passion or frustration that the person is feeling.  What happens from time to time is that after our conversation they leave and watch to see what will happen because of our discussion.  Many times, I have thought about their point of view and have decided to go in a different direction, or to make an opposite decision as to the one they championed.  At times I have heard through other conversations that they have had with non-involved parties, the phrase “He did not listen to me.”  This could be true, but I would like an opportunity to quote back to them the words that we discussed.  I feel that I can accurately recite the discussion in a clear and succinct manner.  I have come to realize that when a person says the phrase, “He did not listen to me” what they really are saying is, “He did not do what I wanted him to do!”  And on this point, they would be 100% accurate.  I chose a different outcome than the one they were suggesting.   

I have been thinking a lot about how to help keep this situation from happening.  I am convinced that there is a Biblical truth at work here that can help these disagreements from growing into full on battles.  James 1:19-20 tells us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”   First, we need to be good listeners.  Good listeners have a few characteristics that make them “good.”  They let one person talk at a time.  They do not interrupt the person who is talking trying to get their point across.  Good listeners think about what the person they are talking to is saying.  All too common a person involved in a conversation is busy trying to think of what they want to say rather than listen to the person they are talking with.  This does not help communication because that person is in fact, “Not Listening.”  Good listeners might write down notes so they can remember what the other person is saying and what they themselves want to say.  A good listener will put forth the effort to listen and concentrate on what the person is trying to communicate.  Another good listening technique is for the listener to repeat what was just said asking if they heard them correctly?  That way things that are mis-heard or mis-spoken can be corrected before misunderstanding or unnecessary anger arise.  Another good technique for listening is to not raise one’s voice.  When volume increases so does the level of anxiety and in some cases anger.  Remember what James told us about how our anger does not lead to the righteousness of God?  Allowing the other person to finish and not interrupt is a good way to keep the volume levels at a profitable decibel. Each of these steps can help one become a better communicator.  Communication goes two ways.  It is, however, not always equally given and received.  James tells us that the most important part of communication for a Believer is to listen.  Most of us are more worried about “being heard” rather than “hearing.”  

So, for my part I am learning to do a better job of repeating back to the person what I heard them say.  Then we can take care of any misunderstandings before they get too much traction or attitude.  I also am trying to circle back with people and tell them what decision I made and how I did hear them and realize my decision may not be easy for them to deal with.  I feel it is a bit irrational for us to think that every time we come to a person with an idea that it will be accepted without reservation and with gratitude.  I also feel that when we do talk with others we should be able to at least say that we are confident we were at least heard.  If we can improve on these areas of communication we still may not get to eat cupcakes for dinner, but the chances of hurt feelings because we were not listened to will be minimized.  

So, on this Valentine’s Day give your Sweetheart, or just a friend, the present of being a good listener.  You never know the impact this can have on your relationships.