Spend Time Listening To Family

One of the most important things we can do in life is to spend time our family. To make sure the time is meaningful we need to learn to communicate effectively with family members. Good listening is essential to good communication. Good listeners often go far in life and usually make lots of friends along the way. And yet it is a skill that far too few of us ever master. Perhaps a statement made by Karl A. Menninger can benefit those who struggle to acquire this virtue. He said: "I just tell myself to listen with affection to anyone who talks to me, to be in their shoes when they talk, to try to know them without my mind pressing against theirs, or arguing, or changing the subject.  My attitude is: 'Tell me more!' This person is showing me his soul.  It is a little dry and meager and full of grinding talk, just now, but presently he will begin to think, not just automatically to talk.  He will show his true self.  Then he will be wonderfully alive.”

Listening to others shows respect and helps create a close bond with others. A friend of mine had an experience with his young son that demonstrates the bond that often develops between those who listen closely to each other. Here is his experience in his own words. 

"In the early days of my career my job caused me to travel a great deal. In order to continue building relationships with my children, I would often take one of them with me in my travels. On one such occasion my six-year-old, Mike, and I traveled from Springfield, Missouri to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  We talked about school and related topics as we drove along the interstate. I decided it would be a good time to teach my son about the creation of life. I pondered on the understanding he had about this sacred subject.

"I decided to test his knowledge and try to teach him some valuable lessons of life. I said, ‘Mike, have you noticed there is a difference between boys and girls?’  After thinking about it for a while, he said, ‘Yes, Dad. Girls are pretty and boys are ugly!’ Though I was tempted to chuckle, I remained serious, and tended to somewhat agree with him.  I asked if he realized what it meant for his mother to be pregnant. ‘Yes, Dad.  It means she is going to have another baby!’  I asked, ‘Well son, do you have any questions about that?’  He thought for a moment then asked, ‘Does everything Mom eats go down and hit the baby on top of the head?’ Again, I had to restrain my feelings to laugh. I explained that the baby was carried in a special place so that the food did not hit him in the head.

"For the next 45 minutes, we had a most interesting talk as we traveled toward our destination.  Finally, as the conversation waned, I told my son how much I had enjoyed our talk together.  Then being desirous to recap this experience, I asked, ‘Mike, what did you learn from our discussion today?’ I was anxious to hear him repeat some of the great knowledge I had imparted to him.  He pondered for some time, then stood up in the seat of our old Volkswagen. He stepped over the console, put his arms around my neck and said, ‘I learned I love my Dad!’”

This experience demonstrates the truth of a principle taught by Richard Moss who said: “The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.” Love at home and in our communities often starts with listening to others respectfully.




Don’t Be Quick To Judge

When I was in college a professor of logic shared a story with our class to illustrate that we need to withhold judgment until we have all of the facts. As you read the story see if you can figure out what really happened in the dark tunnel. Here is the story:

During World War II, a general and his aide, a lieutenant, were traveling from one base to another. They were forced to travel with civilians aboard a passenger train. They found their compartment where two woman who were already seated--an attractive young lady and her unattractive grandmother. For most of the trip, they conversed freely. The train entered a long and very dark tunnel. Once inside the tunnel, the passengers in this particular car heard two distinct sounds--the first was the smack of a kiss; the second was the loud sound of a slap.

Now, although these four people were in the same compartment aboard the passenger train, they came to four differing perspectives. The young lady thought how glad she was that the young lieutenant got up the courage to kiss her, but she was somewhat disappointed at her grandmother for slapping him for doing it; the general thought to himself how proud he was of his young lieutenant for being enterprising enough to find this opportunity to kiss the attractive young lady but was flabbergasted that she slapped him instead of the lieutenant; the grandmother was flabbergasted to think that the young lieutenant would have the gall to kiss her granddaughter, but was proud of her granddaughter for slapping him for doing it;

And the young lieutenant was trying to hold back the laughter, for he found the perfect opportunity to kiss an attractive young girl and slap his superior officer all at the same time!

I have found that many of us not only misjudge situations but we often judge other people. H. Burke Peterson said: “Perhaps a supreme form of charity may be exhibited by one who withholds judgment of another’s acts or conduct, remembering that there is only one who can look into the heart and know the intent--and know the honest desires found therein. There is only one whose right it is to judge the success of another’s journey through life.” (Ensign, May 1981, p. 81.)



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