Thursday, August 11, 2011

3 Reasons Why People Aren't Listening to You by Tor Constantino

Tor isn't someone that I know very well (yet!), but he consistently makes me laugh with the "Wedded Bliss" series on his blog. Plus, he totally recognized the injustice of a single woman in the blogging all-star challenge a last month, which makes him awesome. And as someone who loves to talk, it's good for me to be reminded about the listener every now and again. Enjoy his post!


Sociologists estimate that we are bombarded with more than 5,000 different types of messages every day in the form of news, advertisements, email, social media and plain old conversations. We simply are not equipped to process all that input and a lot of it is simply ignored.

Even meaningful one-on-one conversations with great news can suffer this same fate. At some point, we all experience a situation where we want to share information with someone who doesn’t want to listen. It happens to all of us. It even happens to God.
'Covering up the bang' photo (c) 2010, Ben Husmann - license:
Consider the following passage from Exodus 6:6 and 9 where God had a message that he wanted Moses to convey.
“…6 Say to the Israelites, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will free you from their bondage, and I will rescue you with an outstretched arm [with special and vigorous action] and by mighty acts of judgment….
 …..9Moses told this to the Israelites, but they refused to listen to Moses because of their impatience and anguish of spirit and because of their cruel bondage.”

Whether you have a Christian worldview or not, this is an amazing passage because God – the most powerful entity in the universe – wanted His chosen people to know he’s going to deliver them, yet they refused to listen to that message. What’s interesting is that in verse nine there are three reasons why they wouldn’t listen to God.
  1. Impatience: This is merely a form of selfishness, where somebody wants something exactly when they want it. It’s safe to say the Hebrew nation wanted deliverance on their own schedule not God’s. Perhaps someone you’re having a difficult time communicating with has a similar dilemma? Agreeing to a mutual timetable or similar expectations for a given issue might be the first step toward true understanding.
  2. Anguish of Spirit: In today’s vernacular this might be viewed as anger, depression, anxiety or hopelessness. I’m not a therapist but I do understand when someone is hurting. A critical first step toward helping them out of any of those conditions is allowing the person who’s struggling with hurt and pain to express those feelings. So if you want someone to listen to you, try listening to them and their needs first.
  3. Cruel Bondage: While the physical chains and oppression the Israelites suffered has largely receded into history, contemporary bonds and chains abound in many forms including addiction, abusive relationships, unfulfilling work or an inability to find a part-time job. While those shackles might be unseen, they are every bit as limiting as iron and steel. If someone you’re trying to communicate with is held captive mentally, emotionally or physically, the only way you’ll get them to listen to you is if you intervene and get them help.

It seems like a lot of work to engage people, but we’re so desensitized as a culture to what people say the only way to effectively cut through the noisy clutter is by speaking through our actions.

Question: How might you respond to someone who’s not listening to you because they are impatient, broken or captive? Which of those three areas are you most prone to fall into yourself?


Tor Constantino is a former journalist who has worked for CBS Radio Network and Clear Channel Communications. His first nonfiction book "A Question of Faith" will be available in November 2011, and he posts regularly at his blog


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