by Judge Fanon RuckerImage1 (2)

Fanon Rucker has served as a Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge since 2007. In his “spare” time, the judge enjoys mentoring, public speaking, writing and delivering spoken word (poetry) at local events, studying and fishing.

A few Sundays ago my pastor preached a message on “Overcoming Selfishness.” During the message, he told a story about an interaction between his wife and him and said, “There is a difference between ‘listening’ and ‘waiting to be heard.’” As I reflected on my own daily interaction with my wife, children, friends, colleagues and strangers I considered whether I was actually listening or simply waiting for a pause or break in the other person’s statement so that I could say my piece. I wondered, were there times when I was so sure of my position that I was not really listening, even if I said I was?

It seems pretty clear that right now people in our country (maybe even the world) are more focused on simply waiting to be heard than actually listening to another person’s perspective. There is so much consternation and derision between parties that hold differing views on any subject that neither side is doing a good job of considering a position other than their own. No matter the subject–politics, police-involved shootings, or whether Niki Minaj and Miley Cyrus were actually attacking each other, the debates on the subjects leave very little room to accept something other than our own reality.

The take away from my pastor’s message was that if we ever hope to come to a place of compromise and agreement, it is absolutely essential that we do our best to listen to what’s being said, even if we don’t like how it sounds.

3 thoughts on “listening or waiting to be heard?”

  1. Years ago I was involved in Re-Evaluation or Co-Counseling. A premise was that we had all been hurt about being heard and a basic tenet was “trading time.” We had a timer and would decide the amount of time and then begin. There were other directions for the listener. I learned a lot about how to listen …..and really hear another.

  2. In Quaker tradition there is a guideline for how to behave in a discussion group: if someone else is speaking and you are thinking about what you are going to say- you are not the next speaker. Just listen.
    Ideally, after each speaker there is a moment of silence while we absorb what has been said, and think about what we might have to say in reply.

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