Minute #662: Clear Channel

The conversation was going nowhere. Poor reception on the mobile phone created gaps in the conversation that prevented the participants from understanding what the other was trying to convey. After several minutes, Mr. Weinstein realized that the call had been cut off and that he was talking to himself. Frustrated by the communication failure, he ended the call.

Hashem gave people the gift of speech. In turn, they expend time and effort to instruct their children in the awesome power of communication available exclusively to humans. The goal is to enable them to express wants and concerns to others and to share productive ideas constructively. Yet so many people — like Mr. Weinstein — find themselves talking to themselves. The one-sided conversation is a result of neglect. We forget to teach the art of listening.

The mechanics of hearing are simple. Sound waves are sent to the ears of others and the vibrations form words that are translated by the brain. However, listening is more than hearing. Listening is a brain function, not an ear function. It’s an attempt to understand the intent of the speaker and then form a proper response. In order to be a good conversationalist, one must develop the skills of a good listener. People are more likely to accept what you’re saying if they feel you value what they are conveying. By listening respectfully, you open the minds of others to your proposals.

To create an environment for productive conversation, consideration is key. One should allow another to finish what s/he is saying before responding. One should pause and ask oneself, “What is s/he asking or proposing?” One must never pre-judge what another is going to say.

If you get your brain involved, you’ll be a good listener and a great conversationalist as well.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Harav Simchah Bunim of Pshischa said that even though the gates of tears remain open, nevertheless, gates are necessary to prevent improper tears from entering. The tefillah of tears must be composed of tears of hope, of trust and faith that G-d will help, not tears of depression, dejection or despair. (Rabbi Zev Leff, Outlooks and Insights, p. 130)