I slide into the passenger seat of my husband’s SUV and begin my routine. First, I buckle my seatbelt. Then as he turns the key in the ignition I turn the radio station to one I like better than the loud-heavy-I-need-anger-management-classes style he prefers. We both still laugh every time I do it. After being married for fifteen years we’re okay with being different.
That little scenario came up in a conversation he and I recently had about how to listen to those who are different than us. “I feel like every person is their own radio station,” I said, “When someone has a station similar to yours it’s easy to listen to them. But when it’s totally different it can be a challenge.”
We then speculated on what our radio stations would be like. We decided with grins that mine would be something awesomely cheesy like, “WholeHeart 101 FM” and his would be the counterpart, “ThinkWithYourHead 88.1 FM.” Through the years we’ve learned to “tune in” to each other (and perhaps have even created a station of our own) but that has taken a lot of time, practice, and patience.
We don’t always get the luxury of spending years learning to listen well to someone else. So we need another strategy for other relationships in our lives. As he and I talked through this topic some more we came up with this:
First, we need to remember that the other person simply has a different radio station than us. It’s a good thing that there is more than one option when we flip through the frequencies. There’s a place for every style — rock, country, easy listening. Just because we don’t prefer it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.
When we listen to someone who’s different than us, it’s important to value rather than dismiss them.
Next we need to be open to discovering something new we might like after all. My approach of instantly switching the station when I get into my husband’s vehicle isn’t recommended for relationships. We can deal with those who are different than us by immediately trying to make them change to be like us. But doing so is not only dishonoring (perhaps even offensive) it also keeps us from learning and growing.
While that’s true, it is appropriate for us to invite them to listen to us as well. When we go on a roadtrip, my husband and I take turns picking the music. He gets what he wants for a certain period of time and then I get to choose my favorites.
Great conversations are like that too — everyone gets a chance to share as well as hear.
While we may never change our taste in music, I do believe over time we can gain an appreciation for other styles. I will never like opera, but I have a respect for the talent that goes into it. We may never agree with everything someone else says, but we can still affirm their worth as a person.
Looking at our world, it’s clear God loves variety. Just last night I watched a documentary that said there are millions of insects in the rainforest. So many that scientists can’t even count them all. And it feels like there are millions of kinds of “music” within the human race. How boring would this world be if we all sounded the same?
In our noisy culture it seems everyone is trying to be heard. But sometimes the greatest influence comes from being the one who is willing to listen.
Listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to connection. Connection leads to love. And love is the only thing that has ever changed the world.
Hear what I’m saying?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I was told by my dad, at a relatively early age,that the art of being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. As the old saying goes…God gave you two ears and one mouth – use them proportionately. Not only does listening make you adept at conversation, it invites others into being accepted as the wonderfully created gift to the world that they are. Listening affirms worth. God listens to me 24/7 (He never slumbers or sleeps). What great things does that say about my worth to Him? Good stuff this morning…thank you!
Amen Bev! I’ve noticed that ever since social media has been the main source of “conversations” that the art of face to face conversation has been lost to some extent. “listening affirms worth” is absolutely true…good word Holly!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I was out to eat at a restaurant recently and I saw a table with what looked to be 3 generations of family around it. Unfortunately everyone (including the grandmother) was each on their own individual cell phone and no one was talking to each other…I thought…how sad 🙁 The lost art of conversation…
Barbara Myus says
It is sad to see that. TV has done the same thing for years. By the time you get to share what is on your mind, you have forgotten what you were going to say or convinced yourself it wasn’t very important.
Anna finley says
Perfect timing for me to read this morning…..thanks for posting it…how true!!!!!!
Lisa-Jo Baker says
Wow, this is phenomenal Holley. I’m taking notes. Especially loved this quote: My approach of instantly switching the station when I get into my husband’s vehicle isn’t recommended for relationships. We can deal with those who are different than us by immediately trying to make them change to be like us. But doing so is not only dishonoring (perhaps even offensive) it also keeps us from learning and growing.
Awesome! Thank you for this great thought that is a give and take of love and respect. Beautiful!
Inspired Life says
What a timely word! Tonight I am teaching a group of parents and educators on resolving conflict by listening with the heart. Thanks for the great radio analogy.
Anna Smit says
Oh Holley, how easy it is to judge and miss out on beautiful friendships or community. There have been several people in my life, who I never would’ve picked as friends because they were SO different from me, but I see God’s leading in bringing them into my life to challenge me to see and love as He does and to challenge and inspire me to grow. This is so true and I often forget it: “First, we need to remember that the other person simply has a different radio station than us.” Different is God-breathed uniqueness. Reminds me of the Scripture about the Body of Christ and us being called to love each other and work together, being reminded that each part of the Body is a vital part of God’s plan for this world. Thank you for reminding me of this, Holley.
I really appreciate what you’re saying Holley.
Thank-you for sharing your thoughtful post this morning
What a GREAT analogy! It is going to stick with me!!!!
I love this… And it spoke so directly into my day! A day where we had different faiths speaking to students about what they are about…
‘Listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to connection. Connection leads to love. And love is the only thing that has ever changed the world.’
Thank you Holley!
Angela Parlin says
Love this, Holley! So so true, and something I’ve experienced in my life: “While we may never change our taste in music, I do believe over time we can gain an appreciation for other styles.” My husband & I are the same way…and not only with music! But 17 years in, we can see so many ways it’s a GREAT thing. Not only b/c we’ve grown to understand & appreciate each other, but also we help each other see others & the world through these different eyes.
Yes! I hear ya! This is such a great post. I love your analogy of radio stations. I have been a few different radio stations myself and am so thankful for friends and family that would just switch with me or listened well. I think we often forget that we weren’t always on the same station. There was a station before the one we’re on now. I love this about you and your husband because I do the exact same thing with my husband. Hahaha! More love in equals more love out. Have a beautiful rest of your week!
I was just thinking as we had a MOPS IF:Table last night that we each have a story. All we can do is share our own story and listen to those around us.
So your thoughts are so timely. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something here.
Ms. Witi says
I have a new respect for good listeners….especially since I started working with 3 year olds at a local preschool!! Oh, to get a group of 20 to listen all.at.once. is a miracle in and of itself. 😉
Diane Klettke says
This is a great perspective in a time when everyone wants to be heard, but few people want to listen. Social media is not always a true friend to us in this regard. Listening well takes an investment of time and love, and a willingness to accept the intrinsic value of others. Your article was a great reminder to respectfully care about others.
Your end quote, “Listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to connection. Connection leads to love. And love is the only thing that has ever changed the world” is the best.
heather marshall says
Gosh this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time… I’m over here trying to march to the beat of my own drum and totally dismissing my husband’s “station”… Convicted to listen more. Thanks for breaking it down with such an appropriate analogy for two such music lovers as us ♥
Jenny Howell says
“We don’t always get the luxury of spending years learning to listen…” AHHH such a real perspective! What a strong reminder. It is so much easier to dial in to my station… but I’m not especially expanding my heart that way. Thanks Holley 🙂
Shally Joseph says
Hi Holley! You had a great point in that last statement – “Listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to connection. Connection leads to love. And love is the only thing that has ever changed the world.” I am all for it if we understand that the ONLY love that changed and continues to change the world is the God kind of love – Agape love, which is in and through Christ. Everyone on this planet loves to ‘love’ and they do so in their own understanding of what it is all about – viz., through their faith premise. That’s dangerous. Because this existence is primarily by Him, through Him and with Him. In fact that misunderstanding is clearly highlighted in a comment herein below by Andrea – “A day where we had ‘different faiths’ speaking to students about what they are about…”!!! I read and hear a lot of stuff from motivational speakers – Christian ones – & none of them have the courage to boldly confess Christ in their teachings. Oh yes – they all say subtly that they use biblical principles – what’s that?! It’s like quoting a ‘religious’ book to most people. The importance is to be bold like Paul – he was motivational to Greeks – pagans – but he knew his premise was ONLY Jesus & he was bold to use His Name. And his talks weren’t just about ‘religion’ but about relationship with Jesus – by Whom with Whom and through Whom EVERYTHING lives and breathes and has its existence. There is no true motivation without Christ being in the centre of and for change……. As always I believe and so I speak in His Unconditional Love
Paulita Aldridge Hayes says
I wish our nation could get your post, “TO ALL”. This would be my short post.
1. Step off the soap box immediately.
2. Put down your cellphone.
3. Give your undivided attention…try to make eye contact.
4. Think about what the person is saying and not what you are going to say.
5. Be respectful, kind, and considerate in your properly timed response.
6. You don’t have to be right or wrong in the end. You do have to be politely reasonable.
I think the hardest one for me is 4. I have to concentrate on not jumping to my thoughts.
Beth Williams says
Such an insightful post! Absolutely loved the radio analogy! My husband and I are different stations as well. It took years of work, talking and mostly listening to understand and really get to know him! Love d this: “Sometimes the greatest influence comes from being the one who is willing to listen.” When people talk to me I listen intently as I value them and want their friendship!!
I find the true art of conversation is lost on this generation! Everyone is using cellphones, texts, e-mails, etc. Not much face to face conversation going on!
I’ve always been told I’m a good listener. I believe that comes from not wanting to talk about myself. I’m thinking this is a good blessing. Thank you for always sharing a beautiful message, Holley 🙂
Nancy Ruegg says
Wielding influence by listening might sound counter-intuitive to some, but you’ve presented a compelling case, Holley. We do live in a world overflowing with chatter from electronics, technology, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. In fact, it seems there are more talkers these days than listeners! All the more true then: a listening ear is a precious gift we can give to those around us.
Michele Morin says
Sharing this on Twitter because it say so well what we all need to bear in mind in relating to others, especially in an election year! I especially HEARD your words about not always getting years with a person to work on the adjustments to the “station.” Even with our children, the time is so short. This post makes me want to hang on their every word!