I find myself watching television for the commercials. In the past I had a tv guide so I knew when my favorite shows aired and I could plan my viewing time each evening, but it’s a little more challenging for me now since I’m watching French television. Did you know that their shows rarely begin on the hour at the top or bottom of the hour? Instead they begin at 1840h or 2010h, and yes military time is the norm here. J
One of my favorite commercials in the states was, and is the one about cellular or mobile (depending on which continent you’re on) phones, how better one company is than the others because the reception is acute no matter how far you are away from the one calling you, and vice versus or is it versa? (Who created that confusing expression?) In the commercial the man would ask “Can you hear me now?” and then he would change his location and repeat the question, demonstrating to us that we needed not only that particular telephone, but especially service with that particular phone company. We all can relate to black outs and crackling noises and “I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up!” and looking at our cell phones to see how many bars we have, or for novices, just wondering what the heck is wrong with our phone. J The more bars we saw the better the reception in that particular location. (Took me a minute to learn this.) Oh you too?
Can you hear me now? LOL!! Try talking on the metro with people around you talking loudly and babies crying and the whirring of the train and screeching on the tracks and you’re in the middle of a good conversation and then . . . nothing. You look at your phone just to see zero bars and you’re going through a tunnel. Your connection is lost, but your neighbor is still talking on her phone. How can that be? Anyhoooo. I can hear you now. J
Let’s take it a step further, or is it farther? in another direction. Many times we ask “can you hear me now?” and the answer is “yes, I can hear you.” But as the conversation unfolds we feel like we’re on different trains, not only on different tracks (thank God! Whew.), but in different worlds entirely. You feel like asking a second question, “but are you listening?” Hmmmmm. Five m’s that time. (Don’t know if I’ve ever done five m’s. Oh yes, when I was in love with M & M’s I did more than five. You did too!) You know, those times when you’re telling your story and your listener thinks they know YOUR story better than you do, so they try to finish it for you, or just continue interrupting you with what they think you’re going to say next. They’re not really with you, and they weren't there but . . . You also know those times when you’re speaking and making a point and the other person makes the same point but more ASSERTIVELY and as you do LISTEN to them you realize they just repeated what you said as if you didn’t say it, as if they knew something you didn’t know, again about your own story. Ahuh. Oh, and the other one is from those who are really honest okay. “Oh, what did you say? I wasn’t listening.”
Okay, from spending some time in biology, psychology, and chemistry classes and not making straight A’s (just because you make straight A’s doesn’t mean you’re going to remember what you ‘memorized’ at that time, and just because you make/made B’s and C’s and an occasional D, doesn’t mean you will forget everything, nor does it mean you did not learn anything. This is a lesson I’ve learned well. LOL!!) I learned that we hear with our ears, but we listen with our minds/brains. Did you know that? J Hearing is the physical auditory activity of the ear from the outside that looks like a seashell to the inner ear (please do not ask me to tell you all the formal and scientific names of each part and their individual functions. I am not an optometrist! Oh, that’s a person who does eyes isn’t it? J). I can hear you. Cut out the wisecracks. J Anyhoooo, but listening is the processing of what you hear, and that’s done inside the brain/mind where our thoughts are created.
So you see, it is possible, probable and almost a 100 percent definite that most of us who are not physically deaf or hearing-impaired are “hearing” very well, but the reason we are missing each other is because we’re not listening. You're familiar with the cliche "we hear what we want to hear." hmm. Distractions of so many kind – external and internal appear like pop-ups on internet sites when we’re trying to read our favorite stuff. But when they pop-up we don’t just click them off, we instead follow them and are led by our nose to another “web-site”. Can you hear me now? Yeah, but are you listening?
How many times in school were you present 100 percent of the time, but for some reason your grades did not reflect your physical presence in the classroom? An R&B songwriter wrote a song back in the 70s I think in which the hook says “your body’s here with me, but your mind is on the other side of town.” It’s a pretty song, melody and all, but the truth of the lyrics is anything but pretty. Don’t you know, to hear and not listen can get many people killed, especially in the military, or when you’re crossing the street and traffic is flying by. To listen means to pay attention and take to heart – apply to oneself what you’re hearing. It’s more than just sound bouncing off the walls of our cochlea, eardrums and eustacean (forgot how to spell it, but I know it's not crustacean) tubes. You can help me in the comments section below.
God had the same complaint about the Hebrew children. He told them, "sure, you’re reading My Word and Words out loud, but you are not taking them into your heart, because if you were you would be healthy – spirit, soul, and body, you wouldn’t continue creating debt because of your impatience to have this or that, you would not be appearing in court for driving drunk and getting caught because you totaled your car, your children would listen to you because they would be doing what you’re doing – uh, yes 'listening to ME'”. Now that’s the Allnthejeans version, but if you are a reader of Old Testament history, especially the first five books, you will see the repetitious mistakes of people like you and me. Oh! :-o So what did God want them (us) to do anyway? He wanted them to first hear with their ears, understand with their minds, and receive with their hearts, and allow His Words to mean so much to them that they would change their ways for the longevity and prosperity of their tribes in a vibrant relationship with Himself, and so they could be an example and blessing to all the other peoples on the earth.
So what does it look like for you to listen to me and me to listen to you? It means that I am here with you in the moment and you have my undivided attention to the point where not only can I repeat what you say, but I can paraphrase to make sure I understand what you mean. I guess we’re talking about communication aren’t we? Something upon which our very lives are hinged.
Since being here in France many people have asked me do I always understand what French people say to me, and I have to answer truthfully “no”. And there are several reasons for that. One is, hmmmm what is “I’m American for 400 Alex?” LOL!! Just kidding. Anyhooo, sometimes they talk too fast. I’m still learning the language and it helps when speakers speak more slowly. This increases the likelihood that I will understand what is being said. But sometimes, it’s because I’m just not listening and this is also sometimes my reply. I’m not listening because the conversation doesn’t concern me, or my mind is on the other side of town, or on another continent, or just on other things. But when I concentrate and focus on the speakers, I’m making the effort to not only hear their words, but the phrases so I can follow the storyline of their conversation or monologue. This takes effort – reading lips and listening for words that mélange together versus being one word. Or for instance, in school I learned that “vous” is the formal and plural noun for “you”, and “tu” is the singular and informal noun for "you". (In English we just have "you". So who's more confused?) When I came to France people were saying “toi” but I thought they were saying the number three which is “trois”, which is pronounced similarly. But as I followed the conversation, the number three did not make sense, so one day I decided to cease living in this world of ignorance and reveal my lack of understanding. When I was told what the deal was and is, it is this: "toi" is the singular, informal and more laidback version of the noun “you” and it is used mostly between family and close friends. That was not an example of melanging words, but one in which I had to really concentrate to understand not only what I was HEARING, but what it meant within the context of the conversation. I had to submit my entire being to the conversation if I wanted to understand what I was hearing. Can you hear me now?
Are you listening? If not, then why are we here? If we’re not going to listen as well as speak, why are we “here”? Yes, it is more important to be understood than heard, for everybody is making quite a bit of noise, but not everyone is making good sense and therefore not communicating well. And what about the children? We can HEAR them all around us making all kinds of sounds, but do we know what their sounds mean? Are we listening to them to SEE what they’re really MEANING? “Mommy, you’re not listening.” “Daddy, did you hear what I said?” “But that’s not what I meant.”
When we seek to be understood and not just heard, we will speak with our audience in mind and not just our own voice in our ears. We will watch their facial expressions and their eyes and realize either “they’re with me” or “they’re not getting a word I’m saying.” And we’ll make the necessary adjustments. When it’s more important to us to understand than just to hear, we will treat the speaker the way we want to be treated when the microphone is in our hands. Can you hear me now?
Oui!! J’ai t’entendu, et j’ai t’ecoute bien!!