Anyone can test his/her art of listening by how tolerant he/she would be, listening to those with different viewpoints. Poor listeners are those who cannot tolerate listening to what they disagree with. However, good listeners are those willing to listen to anything coming from another fellow human being.
The violators of good communication are those prejudging before listening. All wars, or the seemingly unending disputes in this world, are a result of violating this principle. In the entire field of human relations, there is nothing that can be more important than good communication. This requires good listeners.
Suicidal effects and many other psychosomatic illnesses are a result of there being no good listeners. Troubled people need listeners more than those regarding themselves as experts in dealing with their cases. Listening should be purposeful. There is a special way of listening, for effective understanding.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 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).
As the most important aspect in human relations, listening does not require approval of what has to be communicated. Good listeners are not sensitized or affected by previous experiences. Their listening seeks to consult with the reality of the speaker. A good listener knows that different people experience different conditions and challenges.
Some of the things experienced, in this life, can be difficult to disclose to unwilling listeners. Humans love listening only to what they feel comfortable with. Others prefer hiding or not wanting to be listened to. This is what spells the challenges in the human race.
In this life when desiring to be popular, the easiest thing is to tell lies. Telling the truth is very unpopularity as to, at times, reducing you to a laughing stock. There is no other reason that caused Jesus’ crucifixion, rather than being truthful. Falsehood is what people like to hear, more than telling them the truth.
Falsehoods can easily resonate with most people. However, the only good news is that it is rare for those having experienced truth to revert to falsehood. Another way of checking whether the passed information is true or false is by the degree to which accepted by ordinary people. When untrue, two things are likely to happen.
If blatantly false, the message gains popularity where people share it, highlighting how wrong it would be. But, if partially true, the message receives more takers, as the idea of duplicity attracts the majority in this world. This comes out clearly when using an example, considered unacceptable in society, like pornography.
This is a vice that parents struggle to discourage their children from. But, it seems, as if the more parents show their disgust, the more children seem persuaded to experiment with it. The popularity of this vice is pushed by showing public disapproval of it.
What is observable is that people are interested in discussing what is generally considered evil, rather than good. This data can be used by those desiring to appreciate the validity of human behaviour. The unacceptable things are given good coverage, more than acceptable things. Pro-survival information is not exciting and gets easily forgotten.
Those in the newspaper industry are not sustained by pro-survival information. They know what their clients need most. Hence, the newspapers are always headlined with scandalously toxic, or murderous information. That is what people like to hear about. They are prepared to pay attention, where such cases are narrated. The good news is commonly not saleable.
Any newspaper businessman knows which side his bread is buttered. A successful newspaper business thrives on publishing highly toxic news. Publishing good news does not appeal, to ordinary people. Those desiring to be in the newspaper business should be well-informed of the impossibility to sustain it when selling good news. To ordinary people, nothing is exciting about good news.
For business purposes, good news cannot be ideal for making a profit. Only truthful people, without profit motive, get attracted to be in the good news business. As surviving on the lowest level of degradation, most people are always itching to hear about bad and scandalous news.
They would be quick to buy anything that discusses political violence, for instance. When discussing ideas about avoiding political violence, very few would be interested to listen to such news. This is how this world is moulded.
A newspaper business that sells bad news is definitely popular and makes huge profits. When posting articles about political violence and other common vices, on social media platforms, the chances of getting a high volume of followers would be very high. This is untrue of those posting good news.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me”(John 15:18-22 NIV).
True Christianity was never intended for popularity. Any popular Christian movement would most likely be unauthentic when critically analyzed. Authentic Christianity is attractive only to a few, willing to confront the truth. That cannot be the case with those seemingly enjoying the comfort of falsehood.
Popularity is driven by anti-survival information. The only time that pro-survival information is accorded the limelight is when the anti-survival content becomes exposed. After having defeated death, at the resurrection, Jesus became popular, as to be worshipped by many, even today.
It is not difficult to understand the behaviour of humanity. Human life is characterized by pain on one hand, and happiness on the other. Everyone wants to be happy, but the price of happiness is to conquer the cause of pain. This is why hard-working is necessary before earning income for survival.
Human life is always filled with a mixture of pain and happiness. The tendency for anyone living in this world is to receive happiness without going through pain. However, the happiness that comes before suffering is delusional. For instance, a farmer might assume good life, avoiding hard work, during the rainy season.
However, what awaits such a farmer would be starving, because no harvest would come from the fields. This goes for any other vocational occupation. As designed at the Garden of Eden, one has to work hard before realizing the benefits of his labour. Only criminals seek to receive and enjoy benefits without working, whose price might be imprisonment.
The reason why people avoid listening is intolerance of confronting things not liked. The tendency is to avoid those things that bring stress. But the causes of stress, itself, would only be forestalled, as long as not confronted. Hence, the price of happiness is to confront anything threatening to bring stress.
The most important factor in achieving happiness is communication with fellow humans. Communication enables the person to solve his own problems, as well. Solving other people’s problems provides for an endowment for happiness. The truly happy people are those solving other people’s problems.
A good communicator is, therefore, a good listener, more than the one talking too much, as suggested by James (James 1:19). There is a specialized methodology of listening as opposed to ordinary listening. Ordinary listening implies being attracted to assumptions rather than what emanates from a speaker.
This is just as it is true that all problems of humanity emanate from assumptions, anchored in between truthfulness and falsehood. There is no problem with blatant falsehood, just as there cannot be any problem with the truth. The problem arises in the event of mixing truth and falsehood, coming up with a product of assumption.
All human beings should never be regarded as problematic, except that which causes them to be problematic, due to assumption. In our modern times, in the world of information technology, communication ought to be regarded as easier than before. It is only the habit of avoiding duplicating before understanding, as causing challenges in communication.
Stating that accurate listening is the most important aspect of our modern civilization cannot be overstressed. There are many aspects of communication that need to be utilized, for one to be effective in communication. But we will just cover duplicating before understanding, as suggested by the heading.
The most important factors of good communication, include duplication and understanding. This does not necessarily require an agreement, on the subject being discussed. This type of listening includes the fact that the other person might desire to take away your life, with or without a good reason for doing so.
But the important question that naturally arises is how one understands a person not inclined to listen or be listened to. For instance, it is common knowledge that criminals do not want to be listened to. But the greatest disfavour one can do to that criminal is to succumb to their state of avoiding communication with you.
Criminals prefer remaining in dark corners, where their secrets remain unknown to other people. All actions of criminality are, therefore, found in secrecy. Although difficult, the art of reaching out to criminals can be the most important, in this world. Blessed are those able to reach out to criminals, aiming at accessing communication with them.
The starting point is appreciating that a criminal is a potential child of God. Buried deep inside that criminal mind, would be that which was created in God’s image. The aim of the communicator is to access the dignified element of God’s nature in him. That person does not need preaching, more than in need of being understood.
The communicator might be aware of his target being a criminal, but deliberately avoiding the aspect of criminality. The aim would be to reach out to that dignified element of God’s image. The criminal might not be in a position to be listened to, especially where the communicator is projecting himself as condescending.
The Master of Christianity, Jesus Christ, portrayed the listening skill. He was viewed as patronizing with sinners, rather than the considered righteous people. The only difference between Jesus and humanity is that Jesus’ listening was accurate, as to understand the speaker without having to assume. Jesus understood people, even without them having to struggle to talk about their troubles.
It is important for humans to adopt the skill of listening, because of human limitations. What is it that makes the other person behave the way he/she does? What are his/her interests? Why does he/she prefer behaving in the manner that he/she does?
The communicator, who is a good listener, becomes the best friend of the criminal, even though not a criminal, himself. Listening, therefore, requires duplication, before understanding.
There is no need to paraphrase, but duplicate exactly what the person says. As stated earlier, listening does not need evaluating or correcting what the other person considers as truthful data.
What is true to him is true, regardless of your opinion. Sharing that experience, over and over again, to an interested listener, becomes therapeutic to the person concerned. Most likely, the person recovers his normal reasoning, through this methodology.
The whole aim is to access the element, created in God’s image, completely different from the apparent. All misunderstandings are caused by failure to duplicate information. The assumption is often wrongly granted eminence, thereby, causing a myriad of problems.
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour. To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?(Proverbs 12:12-14 NIV).
The communicator fails to reach out to the element of God’s image, in that person. This is often due to condescending or invalidating the person’s consideration of true data. Self-determination implies allowing the other person to be himself, needing respect, regardless of the communicator’s viewpoint.
To salvage the degraded sinners is not easy, but the difficulty is caused by condescending or invalidating the person concerned. Criminals need to be listened to, more than being talked to. In short, there can never be understanding, without duplicating what the other person has to say to you. The most unwise thing is to answer before duplicating and understanding.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99