The mouth is one of humankind’s greatest weapons. With it we have the ability to crush or to create. To give life or to murder. With a mouth, you have tremendous power. Learning to use your words to inspire, give hope and spread love will can have rippling effects to many. However, it is more important to be quick to listen, and slow to speak; the effect will be drastically evident in your relationships with all around you.
First, you must listen. Whether someone just tossed a weak and meaningless insult at your high school, or if someone sung you a love song, listen. Before giving advice, arguing with your mom, or joining that History class debate, try listening to what other people have to say.
Listening is the key to success in all relationships, from work to school, and in numerous other aspects of life. When listening, you hear the words a person is communicating, and you receive and consider them. You process them. If everytime someone said something to me and I never stopped to think but instead responded automatically, words would just flow off from my tongue with no restraint. A lack of filter and consciousness would soon be the downfall of a previously respected leader, or any person with an influential voice. Listening is more than just hearing. Listening requires you to humble yourself before the person that is speaking to you and give your best effort to understand what he or she is saying.
If someone says or does something contrary to your own convictions, humans’ first instinct is to fight back. This need to fight traces back to our caveman days where we fought every second of our lives to be at the top; survival of the fittest. This instinct has not changed much since then, as students in the classrooms of RHS spend every waking second trying to be the best, dreaming of prestigious schools, so that they can, one day, make it in the “real world.” Listening sometimes means temporarily subjugating our own thoughts so that we may learn from others. With discipline, we can learn to submit our sometimes selfish, self-promoting voices under our own desires and we listen. If we refrain from speaking compulsively, aimlessly, and without thought, we practice discipline. A Proverb from the Bible speaks great truth when it says “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
A more beneficial result occurs as we practice discipline, because we directly set ourselves up for a productive and meaningful conversation. Listening also affords time to collect your own thoughts, to organize and prepare to make a powerful and eloquent response.
When listening is missed, words are rushed just to get a point across. Without considering and contemplating something someone said to you, you quickly reply without a moment to actually listen to what they were saying. A person will say things and moments later question why they would ever say something like that. This is because they were not listening to the other person in that situation, or even themselves. Their words were rushed and poorly articulated. The person who spoke the words does not realize the depth of what they are saying until it is already said. Speaking, without first listening, puts the spotlight of humiliation on the person who speaks before s/he listens.
When people are “filter free,” because they are not listening before they speak, they risk spouting out dirty words in the forceful rush. Speaking without a filter is similar to drinking without a filter; the things that may come out might be dangerous, but you won’t even be aware of their consequences until after the fact.
Humans’ ability to communicate through words allows us to encourage someone or to tear them apart. With this powerful ability possessed by each one of us, we should feel motivated to consider every word more thoroughly before we say it. The more that we improve our listening skills, the more we will be able understand one another and build one another up. Before we say a word, listen, think, consider that our words could be blessings rather than curses.
Graphics: Jacqueline Weibye