I think that it can be hard to listen when, as soon as someone starts talking, you are thinking about what you will say back instead of listening to the rest of what they say. Or worse yet, you start talking while they are talking.
I went to a teacher conference over 3 years ago that made me really think about listening. I did an exercise with my students where I put them in pairs and had one person be the listener and one person be the speaker. On the first 30 seconds, I had the listener interrupt as much as possible. After trading jobs, we discussed what it made them feel like. Words like bad, sad, angry, frustrated, upset, mad, rude, erg, and others were talked about. Then I had them do 100% listening. That meant for 30 seconds straight, the listener couldn’t say anything. Not one little thing. They could only listen. The kids felt great, like someone cared, special, and that they mattered. You know what else happened? The listener could actually tell you what the other person said when they listened 100%. We talked about how interrupting is really saying your words are more important than their words. That has stuck with me for years.
One of the things that makes Kyle great is that he works to read my face and then depending upon what it says, he will ask what I am thinking. He knows me well enough to know whether or not what I say is all I am thinking about or if I am trying to avoid saying all of what is on my mind. He also knows that I often have multiple things on my mind. For example, I am currently wondering when Eliana will stop crying and go to sleep for the night, if there will be corn at Thanksgiving, and how traveling with little ones is always an adventure.
I am thankful that God gave me a husband who is a good listener.