Listening: Is there anything to hear?

I was inspired by the second presidential debate. I'm not really sure what the opposite of "inspire" is, but this debate did it to me. Regardless of which candidate I wanted to win the debate, and which candidate I wanted to win the election, I was flabbergasted by both of the candidates.

the "talking-but-not-listening" epidemic
As I considered my frustration, it kind of poured out. I felt like I had hit some kind of limit. That all the noise of debating and arguing; posing and positioning had finally crossed some threshold.

Where did we begin to go wrong as a society in communicating? Since most of our culture is informed by commercial interests in competition for viewers, delivery of information is less important than viewers, readers, or listeners.  Was it the Springer Show? Was it the when Rush Limbaugh or Dr Laura went on the air? And more to the point, why did these manifestations of an "in your face" entertainment style actually gain ratings, receive sponsors, and build up market share.
Would it be a reach to be concerned that entertainers are simply giving us what we have asked for?

Over time, we have become a talking-at culture. Listening to the presidential debates and the discussions afterwards, there was little discussion about the source and origin of the positions taken by the candidates. As I listened to others at ball games, neighbors, and friends, I began to see how people were unable to discuss their personal interests and concerns about a wide range of subjects. When people opened up about their positions, they were more like pronouncements. Pronouncements about which there was no reasonable conversation.

Over the year, I want to look at communication, but especially listening. Along with listening, comes the need:
  • to create more effective ways of speaking
  • to create trusting relationships so people are willing to discuss their personal interests rather than positions
  • to understand what occurs in the brain when listening to fear inducing communication
  • to understand ways to speak in order to be more effective
  • to develop tests and tools to measure and assess different listening styles and skills
  • to develop better ways to listen for decision and discernment
  • to develop skills in listening to history, cultures, and experiences of others
  • to find processes that sharpen our listening and discernment for groups
  • to work at listening so as to begin to hear each other in peace
  • and to find confidence in faith that God, too, can be heard 
Next week, I'll be thinking about the time it takes to create listening environments. Listening can be slow and needs time.

Looking forward to hearing from you!