While at a prayer partner meeting, an older gentleman told one of the funniest stories I have ever heard.
He told how a man had come to him and his wife for prayer after services, asking them to pray for his hearing. The wife began to pray, putting her hands on the man’s ears, praying a strong, faith filled prayer that would move mountains.
When she was done she asked, “How’s your hearing now?”
The man replied, “I don’t know, it’s not ‘till next week.”
All of us who heard this story laughed so hard, some of us almost in tears. And while this was a very funny situation, sometimes when we misunderstand things the results can be disastrous. It can end in hurt feelings and even lost relationships.
These things can be prevented by following some basic rules of listening.
- Never assume anything. It’s so easy to put two and two together and think you know. But really, you could be very wrong.
- Always ask questions. Even if you think you understand, it’s ok to ask questions to clarify. It’s better to ask a question that might seem silly, than to assume and be put in an uncomfortable situation later.
- Repeat back what you think you heard. This is a wonderful tool. While in a college psychology class, I learned that all of us perceive things differently. A person can say one thing and the words go through a filter of the hearer’s experiences and attitudes (called noise). Because of this noise, the hearer can perceive something different than what was meant. It’s always good to clarify what you think you heard.
Using these tools can save us from confusion, hassle, relationship problems, and yes, even awkward situations on the prayer line.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19 NIV).
Question: What are some awkward situations you’ve been in because of misunderstandings?