A key Biblical truth to developing a pleasing character is to learn to listen.  Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.” The Bible also says, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint and a man of understanding is even-tempered.”

God warns us against rash talking, as well as protecting us from coming across as being rude and interruptive.   We make a mistake when we think that giving a quick answer shows others how sharp we are. We also deceive ourselves when we think that we must give answers right away.  The Bible is saying that it is folly for a man to speak about an issue before he has gotten all the facts and has understanding of the circumstances. Communication skills are not just good interpersonal relations; they are actually moral issues of wisdom coming from prayerful understanding of the council of God’s Word.  Responding quickly without listening causes us to give our opinion, thus missing the opportunity to point people to seek the council of the Lord. It is actually stupid, because it cause us to miss out on hearing from the Lord and make right judgments.

John 7:24 says “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”   “Too often we are slow to hear—we never really listen to the whole matter patiently—and swift to speak; and this gets us into trouble.  It is wise to restrain the lips.  A godly person will study to answer, but a fool will open his mouth and pour out foolishness.  Potiphar did not listen to Joseph’s side of the story and committed a great crime because of it. Jesus and the Apostles were not permitted to tell their whole story; the verdicts were passed by their enemies before the cases were honestly tried.”. (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Pr 18:13). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books)  “A man should get all the facts before giving his opinion. Otherwise he will be embarrassed when the full details are made known. There are two sides to every question: every divorce, every quarrel, etc.  Don’t agree with a person if you have not heard the other person’s side.” (MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary)

Robert Herron wrote, “Good listening is like tuning in a radio station. For good results, you can listen to only one station at a time. Trying to listen to my wife while looking over an office report is like trying to receive two radio stations at the same time. I end up with distortion and frustration. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention. To tune into my partner, I must first choose to put away all that will divide my attention. That might mean laying down the newspaper, moving away from the dishes in the sink, putting down the book I’m reading, setting aside my projects.”

The Book of Proverbs has it right, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…” (Proverbs 15:28)