Learning to How To Listen

Through a series of seemingly unfortunate events, I met my friend Connor my junior year of high school in an AP Psychology class. Our friendship has taught me how to listen—how to really listen to someone and feel what they are feeling.

The first day of class, I walked into the room and see a couple friends at the front of the class, but there were no seats near them. I reluctantly sat in the back next to a guy I had never seen before in my life and an empty chair. The teacher announced that was to be our permanent seating chart and tutorial, a twenty minute free time open for studying or talking, would be spent in those seats as well. I thought, “Great, I have some shy guy and an empty chair to talk to all year.” During first semester, we had a couple awkward conversations to avoid the awkward silence.
That year, I was on the leadership council for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which met every Wednesday night at 8:30. We would pray, worship and listen to a guest speaker. I found throughout high school, FCA was my retreat from stress and worries.

Second semester came and the awkwardness continued. We spoke more often, but still weren’t to the point of calling each other friends. February came and Connor was abruptly absent for about a month. Our teacher told us that Connor’s mom had died back in the beginning of February. That night I messaged him on Facebook telling him I was sorry for his loss and if he needed anything to let me know and I would do everything in my power to be there for him. When he returned to class, I assisted him with his makeup assignments, but he had grown quieter than he already was. We talked even less. It was a Wednesday and with nothing to lose, I decided to fill the silence with an invitation to FCA that night. Connor came and went and I thought nothing of it.

It was more than that to him. It was life changing.  He came to every FCA after that and began coming to church with me. We would talk about how he was doing and how his father was doing. We decided it was best for him to seek counseling with his dad and join a Lifegroup at church. That was two years ago. Connor and I still go to church and talk on a regular basis.

Everyone has that person they go to when they have a story, or need advice. You can never be too good of a listener. I never knew how important listening was until I met Connor. Today people say, “hey guess what I did!” and ask how someone is just so they can say how they are and what’s going on in their own life. I have learned to ask, “how are you” and mean it—how to actually listen to someone and be totally with them. Being engaged with people when talking about personal aspects has been something I have tried to become better at with each passing year. What I hate most is talking to someone and you can tell they’re not really listening, not really engaged. My goal is to know something about each person I encounter. To never let a chance to listen to somebody pass me by. Everyone has a story, all you have to do is listen. 

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6 thoughts on “Learning to How To Listen”

  1. Practice is the only thing that brings about natural learning. Listening is not something someone can simply show you how to do. Trying to instruct someone on how to correctly listen is like trying to teach someone how to think. When you listen, you must focus on the person and what they are saying and the feeling behind their words. Speech is the most expressive form of communication and it is a shame we do not take full advantage of it. Listening to what one has to say is most important.
    Some are born with remarkable listening skills and others are not. Sadly, I was not. It took an eye-opening (or this case an ear-opening) experience for me to realize how important the ability to listen was. In order for me to want to change something about myself, in this case to become a better listener, I have to fully understand why I am changing. I realized that the ability to listen was taken for granted. My goal is to think of how I would want someone to listen to me if I was going through something hard, had exciting news, or needed advice.

  2. Wow, what a remarkable story. It is really easy to forget just how big of an impact you can have on someone just by being there for them. I feel challenged by your post to truly get to know how someone’s day is going and WHY.

  3. I can honestly say that you are one of the best listeners I have ever met. You are so caring and compassionate, and you are always willing to listen. I can tell that you are such a blessing in Connor’s life and I am so proud of your continued willingness to be that friend, but when your ears start to get a little bit tired, know that my ears are here and ready to help.

  4. One thing that I have always wanted to do is when you know someone walks by and they offer that little ‘hey whats up,’ and you are expected to say ‘not much,’ or something that doesn’t require actual meaning. When someone asks me in passing how I am, I want to say “you know what? I’m not that great today. It’s been a really bad day.” Just to see how exactly they would react. The people that are your friends and actually want to know what’s going on will stop, they don’t care about being late for class. It’s the people that kinda give you a funny look for breaking the common trend of everything being fine that you realize don’t really care.
    I think what you did for Connor was amazing. It’s takes a lot to break out of the trend of not caring and to show someone that you will listen even if it means you’ll be late for class, or a meeting, or even just getting to lunch. You changed someone’s life just by breaking the norm, and that’s what real friends do for each other.

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