Listening Fully

listeningThis week I posted on the Splickety Magazine site, the first of a two-part joint article that I wrote with one of my authors there. It stemmed from a conversation we had about an ex-girlfriend of his, as he was trying to make sense of why they broke up.

As I usually do when I blog, I posted a link to the page on my Facebook page, so my friends can link to it and read it.

Almost immediately, I received a response from a woman who was upset by something I said, saying I did a “disservice” to women by saying what I said. The thing I said was not even, at least in my opinion and given the context, remotely insulting. It was about how women are more intuitive and less logical, especially in relationships. After this woman comment on my Facebook link, I posted a comment to clarify what I meant, and that it was a generality and certainly not always true of every woman or every relationship.

This still did not seem to satisfy her, and so I decided that it wasn’t really worth getting into an argument with her about it. She heard what she wanted to hear, and no amount of backpedaling on my part was going to change her mind.

And it occurred to me, how often do we all do that? How often do we hear a sermon or a speech or read a blog or an article or a Facebook post, and pick out what we want? Whether we decide we agree with everything the author has to say based on our interpretation of one line, or whether we decide the author is a complete dolt with no grasp on reality based on something we disagreed with, we all have a tendency to hear what we want to hear from time to time.

What’s more, once we have done so, everything else that person says is colored by our conceptions of that person, regardless of the intelligence (or lack thereof) of their words.

I know I have done this plenty of times. You may remember my post awhile back, “Judge Not,” where I lambasted the ignorant imbecile who I felt insulted me and didn’t understand the first thing about what he was saying. Within a day or two of that incident, I saw another post of his that was actually intelligently written and with which I pretty much fully agreed, and yet I had to fight my own inclination to disagree with him on principle simply because I had already formed a negative opinion of him and everything he stood for.

My point is this: people have their ups and downs. They have things they’re right about and things they’re wrong about, opinions that make sense and opinions that maybe don’t to anyone but themselves, they are both good and bad, and no one is perfect.

So, before discounting what someone says simply because you read something that strikes you wrong or hits you in a negative way, take a second look. Read through the context and consider the tone and feel of what they’re saying before assuming they mean something they don’t, or before taking offense to something that may not actually be offensive. Listen fully, not just to their words, but to their hearts.


About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

4 comments on “Listening Fully

  1. Yes, especially online, we tend to respond to what we think people meant instead of what they actually said. And honestly, how many times have you seen comments on Facebook where someone links to an article and people start commenting, and you can tell by their comment that they didn’t even read the article.

    • Yes, totally! That exactly. They read the headline, but didn’t really bother to see what was said before jumping in with an opinion.

  2. Great points. Online communication is tricky. Even the best written words leave a lot open to interpretation (hey, just look at how differently people interpret the Bible!). We ought to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    Since there is often a record of our online exchanges, it’s especially wise to think a bit before posting a hot reply to something. Sure hope I remember this nugget of wisdom when I need it most! 😉

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