Okay so where were we?
Well, I must be frank with you. After talking about seizing the little moments and giving people undivided attention, I started to really struggle. Perhaps this reveals a little bit about where my life is out of balance, because I REALLY struggled to be present in the moments and to be present with others.
Did you struggle with this part?
I meet with people often and I thought I had this part nailed in my own life. But watch what happens to you when you start writing to people about this sort of thing, all of your shortcomings soon become obnoxiously apparent. Here’s what I learned about myself:
I think I know everything about everything! Ouch it hurts to say it out loud. Sure I have a lot of ideas and sure I think I’m right about a lot of stuff but that does not translate to listeners! As I examined why I have a hard time giving my undivided attention I learned that I like to do almost ALL of the talking. I love to give advice! I love to tell people what they should be doing instead or how to make things better. But lately I’ve been failing at my attempt to do so, because I just come off as a “know-it-all,” or as judgmental or opinionated.
I had to really wrestle with why my advice and guidance was not affective. People weren’t really listening. Though, I may be right on the money with the way they should go or what step they should take next, I didn’t see much change in their life. I’m not even sure if they cared about my advice or if they were just being nice.
I left something huge out of my pursuit to really SEE people. It’s this one little thing that could make a huge impact in my ability to be present and really see people. It’s a minor tweak.
Are you ready for it?
-SEEK TO UNDERSTAND instead of seeking to BE understood-
You and I may have a lot of wisdom to offer people. But if all we ever do is seek to be understood, then we won’t be listened to. We will be tuned out.
Wise people that others desire to listen to are those that seek to understand people and circumstances diligently. It takes patience. It takes perserverance. You have to hold your tongue and convince yourself that you must understand the process that has evolved the circumstance first. You must seek to understand the journey a person has been on first. You must seek to understand why they think the way they do, why they’ve made those decisions.
It’s only when you’ve sought after this that you will gain their permission to speak into their life.
I’m telling you, I’ve experimented with this one personally. I’ve always been the one to jump ahead and want to solve the problem. Before you’re even finished telling me of your problem I can already tell you where you went wrong and what you can do to fix it (yikes, that sounds horrible now that I write it). I’ve always told myself it must be a gift. And perhaps it is. But it’s mostly a curse. It ruins my chance of speaking into lives because I didn’t put in the time to really listen and understand.
A couple things happen when someone becomes intentional in seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. You’ve given that person worth, you’ve just spoken a relational language that says you deeply care. It makes people willing to take your advice. Like really take it. You waste less of your awesome advice on those that are just not ready for it, and you end up having people coming to you to ask you for advice and help, instead of always dishing it out to unwanted ears.
So maybe you’ve been given some sort of intuition or ability to read people and situations. So you’re full of an overwhelming amount of ideas to offer people at any given time.
It means nothing if you are not willing to hear others first.
So Here is what has worked for me and now I am challenging you. This is your last challenge in Part 2 of The Give GOD Project:
1.) Save your desire to be understood for the appropriate time.
All that advice and ideas that you want to just lavish on anyone sitting next to or meeting with you, needs to be stored somewhere. After all, many of those ideas could be from God. But you will now be practicing the art of learning when to speak. So get yourself a notebook for all these thoughts. Write them all down, you can even write them down as someone is talking to you. But don’t share them right away. Store them. Work on your patience, and wait for the perfect time to share them. What happens when you practice this, is you become more aware of which ideas are more important. You will be able to weed out the thoughts and ideas that just won’t work, and you will have your amazing ideas and advice ready and waiting for the right time. When is the right time? Well, first when they ask for it. Second, it will be different with each situation, but if you keep talking to God about your ideas and advice you may get a sense for when the right time is to share. You want to make sure you wait until you have ears that are ready and willing to do something with your thoughts.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 (NLT)
2.) Seek to Understand.
Become a studier of that person and the situation. Remember we talked about this in part 1 when we were learning to be observant of people. Now this step goes a little fuller. Become an expert question asker. When people say vague things, ask them what they mean. Do your best to understand and investigate why people think and act the way they do. You may actually learn something very valuable in the midst of your seeking. You may actually feel better prepared to give advice, and you may find that your advice actually changes when you understand how different each person is from the next and each situation different from the next. Pause, think for a bit, ask another question. Put others before yourself and deny your huge desire to speak into this situation and dominate the conversation with your own ideas or experiences.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
If you can learn to do these too things, you will be able to seize little moments and give people undivided attention more affectively. You will speak volumes in showing people love and giving people worth.