I mentioned in one of our posts last week the conference rooms that we used during my twenty years at Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies. At one point during my tenure as a Process Supervisor in the Milling department, we were filling some vacancies within our management team and for quite a few months I had the majority of the machining team reporting directly to me. Instead of the normal 8 – 10 employees, I had 36 machinists and fabricators under my direction and care. This meant that I was writing three evaluations a month and spent many hours each week in employee conferences, one on one with my team.
As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time listening to my guys and gals! I always strove to have a good relationship with each of my employees. So in order to attain and maintain that status, I spent over half the shift (as much as possible) on the floor with the machinists shouting over the noise of their large CNC machines and at the work stations of the fabricators. My desk was in an open cubicle in the middle of the shop which made for easy access for all of us.
For many years Hewlett Packard was known as a ground breaker and trend setter when it came to employee perks, working conditions, benefits and pay. They were also very interested in the education and training of their management teams. As a Supervisor I was constantly attending College level classes on all aspects of my job. Many of these classes were held in-house in the above mentioned conference rooms while others were off-campus at local hotels or in or near the company headquarters in Palo Alto, California. For a few years I had the pleasure of being a member of our in-house training team.
The company seemed to understand the need of good communication in order to succeed and stay on top of the market and offered a myriad of classes on this subject, many being mandatory to all employees. Needless to say, over the years I attended countless classes and conferences on this subject. I even taught a section of a two day employee introduction to the company class on communication.
Almost every class covered the importance of developing the use of “Active Listening Skills.” Active Listening “involves listening with all the senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.” (http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html) Most curriculums taught specific verbal and non-verbal skills to engage in a successful and productive conversation with another individual. I won’t go into a discussion of those methods but if you’re interested check out the website listed above.
My people skills training and experience at the large electronics firm has helped me to communicate with people in all aspects of my life and has been especially helpful in ministry. It has also been of great aid in my ability to “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go…” (Proverbs 3:6 - The Message Bible) I have come to learn that active listening skills are not only necessary in communicating with people on a daily basis but in my hearing Papa God as well!
I have always wanted to strive at assuring that I am accurately hearing those that I interact with so that I can best respond and/or minister to their needs. In the same vain, I always strive to make sure that I am accurately hearing the voice of the Lord when He speaks to me be it by the small still voice inside of me, through His Word, through others or through the presence or lack of peace. I know from 2 Timothy 1:7 that God does not speak to me through fear but through power, love and a sound mind.
When I actively listen in communication with God, I am assured that He is also actively listening to me. The Spirit of God works in me to confirm Papa God’s attention and retention of our conversation. I am sorry to report that I cannot always say the same thing when I converse with people. Some of my most frustrating times over the last few years have occurred during heartfelt communication with family members who do not seem to take to heart anything that is being shared. Many times the most recognition I have received back is a nod with minimal verbal acknowledgement of their understanding. In fact, there have been numerous occasions when information came back to me at a later date through someone else, that was totally opposite or colored by the hearer’s personal rendition of what was originally meant.
This situation has caused me to be less forthcoming in my conversations with these individuals and I only now share what is requested and am very cautious about what information I volunteer. This is sad in that it limits any growth in our continued relationship. But at this point I feel that it is necessary in order to best protect and provide for my wife’s care (as well as for my own peace of mind!).
But you know… this is not the kind of relationship I want to have with people and especially not with God! I desire open, loving and Godly interactions with Him and His people. Don’t you? I want to keep the door open to ministry and the love of God flowing in my life and theirs. Have you ever accessed your communication skills with Papa God and those with whom you interact with on a regular basis? How are your Active Listening Skills? Are you REALLY hearing what God and man is saying to you? Is what they are saying important to you?
I think that these are some good questions that we need to continually ask ourselves. I have learned first-hand that it is more important to listen and really understand what you’re hearing way before you make a comment or judgment on what is being expressed! Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to REALLY HEAR today?”