Listening Naively

February 4, 2017

by Pastor Paul Dziadul

“When a customer comes to you with an issue that you’ve heard a thousand times, listen to them like it is the FIRST time you ever heard it.”

That’s what a corporate trainer laid out to a room full of Administrators for Marriott International’s Senior Living Services division. There happened to be a young Pastor in the room that day who had lived just enough life to realize that he, in fact, had a lot to learn about a lot of things.

That corporate trainer then went on to coin a term for her scenario: “Listening Naively.” It may well have saved my marriage or, at the least, enriched it a thousand fold.

Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” You ought to say ‘Amen’ or ‘Ouch’ right about now.

In this age of endless input, we find ourselves drowning in a sea of information — yet starving for wisdom. At the heart of effective communication is something called wisdom. Wisdom is not necessarily knowing WHAT to do and WHEN to do it. That can be followed like any recipe, checked off and implemented by any run-of-the-mill foolish person. Wisdom is nuanced in the WHY & HOW MUCH of relational action.

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” opined a very wise king in Proverbs 18:13. Have you ever found yourself in an exchange with a friend only to realize they are not really listening? They are usually too busy formulating a response. You can tell that’s the case when they interrupt you in order to drop their pearls of wisdom on you.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am often the interrupter. I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, to slow down, stand still, and make eye contact with the person I’m conversing with.

It is helpful, if you’re a fidgeter like me, to fold your hands, make solid eye contact, and listen as though you’ve never heard it before. Then say, “what I hear you saying is…” Give a summary, not a commentary, of what you heard.

We earn the right to be heard by learning to be a Naive Listener.

Grace & Peace,

Paul J. Dziadul
Pastor, Lake Wildwood Baptist Church

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