A few years ago, Verizon Wireless had a commercial where a man on a cellphone would walk a few steps and ask, “Can You Hear Me Now?” The commercial claimed that with a Verizon Wireless cellphone, you could get reception anywhere the guy in the commercial stood. The commercial asserted that there were no obstacles that would interfere with your hearing the other person, if you had a Verizon Wireless phone. With Verizon Wireless, whether you were in a valley, on a mountaintop, on a freeway in the middle of nowhere, you could still hear the person on the other side. We all know that is not entirely true. Also, that gentleman in the Verizon Wireless commercial, is now working for Sprint Wireless, claiming Sprint is superior to Verizon! Cellphones have their limitations, there are places where the reception is low. There are people with whom we cannot communicate because they do not own a cellphone, or they live in areas where cellphones do not work. Any form of communication could fail if there are obstacles in the way.
Effective communication is a two-way channel. The sender dispenses the message, the receiver must receive the message. Sometimes miscommunication happens when the sender sends the wrong message, wrong words, uses the wrong channel, sends the message at the wrong time. The receiver could miss the message if the receiver does not engage with the message. In James 1:19, we read, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This verse encourages people to take time to listen to a message. Most people are born with the ability to hear. Listening is an art. You have to teach yourself to listen.
Look at the construction of the Chinese character for listening. It is called, “Ting.”
Ear = What you use to listen (hear). Hear, don’t let it go through when ear and out the other.
Undivided Attention = Pay attention as if the other person were king (obey). Respect. Time, value of words. Let them finish.
Ten = Maximum effort, as if you have ten ears. Critical thinking. What are they saying? What do they mean? What do I think about it?
Eye = Be observant with your eyes (heed) (Look at me when I am talking with you). Minimizes distractions.
One = Listen with individual attention (attend to). Appointment. No other interruptions. Multi-tasking. Phones, TV, computer, other people.
Heart = Listen also with your heart (in addition to ear and eye) (hearken). Engage emotions. Read between the lines.