The Lost Art of Listening

by Larry Hehn on April 24, 2013

listeningAfter all the fuss I’ve been making about growing my beard over the past several weeks, I took a major step backward on Tuesday night.

I took my son to the barber for a haircut. While dropping him off, I noticed on the menu board that the barber also did beards.

Noting that some beard hairs grow more quickly than others, and figuring that I’d benefit from a bit of a “clean up” trim, I soon found myself a chair.

Not wanting to undo a stellar three months of beard growth, I carefully explained to the barber, “I’m growing my hair out. I want to keep it as long as possible. I don’t want to lose any length on my beard. I just want you to even the growth out and trim down any stragglers.”

Before I knew it, he had taken a set of electric shears and hacked a full inch of growth off the right side of my face.

“Like this?” he asked, with a vacant look on his face.

I think the look of horror on my face and my exclamation of “Oh, crap!” told him he had made a huge mistake.

Too late at that point, though. We had to even everything out. Which means I lost about two months’ worth of beard growth in that sitting, due to some poor communication.

I am so bummed.

I was so careful and deliberate with my wording; I have no idea how he could have somehow heard me say, “Reduce my face to stubble.”

It reminds me of back when my wife was pregnant with our son. We were out of town in Buffalo, NY and she was having some serious cravings for a Wendy’s hamburger. I asked one of the locals where I could find a Wendy’s.

Without hesitation he replied, “There’s Swiss Chalet just around the corner.”

“Thank you,” I continued, “but my wife is pregnant. She has a craving for a Wendy’s hamburger. Do you know where we can find a Wendy’s?”

“Yeah,” he said, “Follow me, the Swiss Chalet is right around the corner.”

“B-but,” I stammered, “We’re looking for a Wendy’s…” as he hopped in his car and waved us on.

We got in our car and followed him. To Swiss Chalet. He waited in his car to make sure we got out of ours and went in. We hid inside the Swiss Chalet until he pulled away, then resumed our search for…a Wendy’s.

Do people not listen anymore?

It’s easy to spot when other people don’t listen.

I wonder how often I’ve had trouble with my own listening, and not even noticed.

I wonder what I’d hear God say to me right now, if I chose to discover the lost art of listening.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Qarau April 24, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Great piece Larry! Just had a Barber cut my hair today and he did exactly that. I often think that maybe I wasn’t loud or clear enough and most of the time just don’t have the energy to kick a fuss. At the same time I continue to ask the Lord to help me listen more and speak less.

Qarau recently posted..How dare you even think about taking a life! – The Boston Marathon TragedyMy Profile


Larry Hehn April 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Welcome, Qarau. I’m sorry to hear that I’m not alone when it comes to barber woes. I never understood before how someone could get upset over a bad haircut, but now I’m beginning to understand. Thankfully, it will grow back!


Peter Graham April 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I have seen the carnage, and it is not pretty.

Thanks for your insight Larry!


Larry Hehn April 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I hope you’re referring to my beard and not my face. I don’t know if I’m prepared for you to answer that… 🙂


Terri April 26, 2013 at 1:49 am

Ohmy gosh, I had to reply this one. About 10 or 11 days ago I tell a woman I want my hair trimmed. Now this is important b/c my hair does not grow very fast so it took me some serious time to get my hair to grow to my shoulders. Something that is very desirable for me, It is my preference to have longer hair. I have wondered, everytime my hair trimming exp comes to mind, what about the word an inch meant 3 onches? I wonder; did it matter what I had said? What was it this woman heard me say? Truly I do wonder what happened from my lips speaking to her ears hearing? One may never know. Kind of like–where do the socks go from my dryer? ENTER la la land. Ahem..answers anyone? 🙂 🙂


Larry Hehn April 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I think they are abducted by aliens and turned into intergalactic sock puppets.
Ok, not really. 🙂


Liz McLennan April 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Listening is not my strong suit. It’s my weak one. Me, I’m a talker. I talker over, under and around. I talk in my sleep, while I’m driving, to no one, to everyone….you get the picture.

THEN, I started supporting people who don’t communicate with their voices. You’d think that I’d be in my glory, wouldn’t you? Alas…

I have learned, silent moment by silent moment, that a person who does not listen is not a good support worker, wife, mother or friend. And I want to be good in all of those roles, to be that place of solace, but quietly. Erm…quieter.

It is a tough lesson. Continues to be a tough lesson. But, it is one I am blessed to be learning. Would that we all be forced to sit awhile and speak with our eyes and our hands and our hearts….and listen with them, too.


Larry Hehn May 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

The older I get, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn and apply. Is that what they consider wisdom?
Always a pleasure to hear from you, Liz!


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