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What we heard is not what they meant

June 24, 2007

I came across this quote yesterday. “I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey

Oh how true that is. Every day we hear things and we believe we heard exactly what was said and know what was meant, yet we haven’t taken the time to really listen or to have deep enough relationship to know their communication style. I wonder how often we are right. I am sure it is not as often as we think.

James 1:19-20 reads, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

What would happen if we were quick to listen and slow to speak? It seems like communication would take a little more time. Would that time be used to think things through? By listening more would we hear things differently? By being slow to speak would we say less and be more meaningful in what we say?

God, teach me to listen more and not be so prideful in thinking I know and understand exactly what the other person said and meant. Teach me to see and hear others’ hearts before I respond with a quick tongue, an angry spirit, or a wounded heart. Show me how to ask questions, seek information, and take the time and energy necessary to build relationships and not just jump to conclusions.

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