“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another person has to say.” Bryant H. McGill
I am in therapy. Yep, that’s right. I am a therapist who is in therapy and sharing that is extremely comfortable for me. There may still be a stigma around therapy, but this stigma is slowly disappearing and I hope to be a part of that movement.
However, this blog post is not about #endingthestigma. Nope. This blog post is dedicated to a question my therapist posed to my future husband and I during our premarital counseling session.
As we were discussing the topics of frustration for us, he silently sat and watched us communicate. After we snapped back to reality and realized we were actually in a room with another person, we stopped talking and returned our focus back to him. And he asked, “Are you listening to hear or are you listening to respond?”.
This question spoke volumes to me and is something that has remained on my mind since that session a couple of weeks ago. It has stood out to me so much that I have dedicated an entire blog post to this topic. And that’s because I think it is vital that we all learn to become people who listen to hear.
When we listen simply to respond, we miss out on so much. We miss out on hearing what the person is truly saying, experiencing their perspective, and a deeper level of connection.
For example, when I speak about something that is on my mind, if my future husband listens to respond, he is not truly listening to me. In that situation, he would be preparing his next move in his mind while I am sharing something. And as an individual prepares for the next move (the next thing to say), he/she misses that moment to connect with the speaker. The individual misses a moment to ask deep questions, or to offer a hug or word of encouragement. Connection may be broken when we listen to respond.
Also, people feel more positive towards you when you listen to hear. Do you want to know why? Because it is an innate human desire to want to feel heard and loved. We want people to hear us, comfort us, and to show us that they care.
You would be surprised how many people come to therapy because they simply need someone to listen. Sure, they may talk to friends or family about what is happening, but often miss the people who are truly listening. Personally, I love therapy for that reason. No matter what, you know that the therapist is truly listening to what you are saying, that they care, and that they have a desire to help you. And honestly, it is such a wonderful feeling.
My hope is that both you and I can become people who truly listen to hear, rather than to respond. My hope is that we could become the type of people that others need in their lives. I desire to be someone that everyone knows they can come to with anything and truly be heard.
And I believe this is the type of care that God shows us. God does not listen to our prayers in order to respond. He listens to our prayers to provide comfort and to offer us the opportunity to cast our burden onto His shoulders, rather than carrying it alone. So, when I say that I hope for both you and I to become people who listen to hear, I am also hopeful that we can become more like Christ. I am hopeful that we can live out our purpose of helping others simply by listening as God listens to us.