My Dad used to tell me, "You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, so you should watch and listen twice as much as you talk." A lot of us, myself included like to do the reverse. We like to talk twice as much as we watch and listen. Yet, there is a serious lesson we can learn from Dad.
Words, in the right hands, can inform, inspire and enlighten. Words, in the wrong hands, can deceive and mislead. Even those without nefarious intent can manipulate words, but the truths can be revealed through carefully and objectively watching their actions and really listening to what they say.
We've all heard the adage that actions speak louder than words and they do. Often we don't want to honestly evaluate what those actions are saying because it would lead to disappointment or heartbreak. So we close our eyes and plug our ears to the truth.
What are you looking for with your two eyes? You are looking for congruency. You are looking for actions that support what the person is saying. Do they do what they said they would do? Do they keep the promises they make? Are their actions in line with their words?
What are you listening for with your two ears? Are they constantly explaining themselves or justifying their behaviors? Are they really supporting you or are their words subtly (or not so subtly) discouraging or hurtful? Have you caught them in lies? Have you caught them backtracking or double-talking? Have they spoken the truth and told you how they feel and you just didn't want to hear it?
Sometimes the truth of a situation or a person's character or desires is right in front of us, we just refuse to see or hear it. At work, you see some questionable charges and your co-worker has been caught taking some expensive equipment home. She tells you she's got approval from the boss, but you can't see him giving her permission to do what she's doing. Yet, you believe her ... even though your gut tells you different. You see her questionable actions and you hear her flimsy explanations but you trust her anyway. You are letting her one mouth take precedence over what your eyes have seen and your ears have heard.
You are dating someone. You two are really connecting. You immediately see the potential in this 'relationship.' At dinner, he tells you, he really likes you but he's not looking for anything serious right now. He's said it loud and clear. Yet, you stop seeing other people and make yourself available to him exclusively. Several months down the line, you get upset when a friend tells you she saw him out with someone else. He was honest, but you chose not to hear his words.
We have to know what to look and listen for, but even more than that, we also have to be courageous enough to see what we see and hear what we hear and act accordingly.