Self-Reliance Principle 8: Communicate: Social and Spiritual Listening


Our brains can process an extraordinary amount of information about others, and yet we often focus on our own perceived needs: the need to be heard, the need to express ourselves, the need to be right. This mindset creates in groups an imbalance between meeting the needs of the individual and the needs of the group. Resentment can ensue, and group productivity can suffer.

In his book Social, Matthew Lieberman explores the ways our brains are wired to connect. From study after study he concludes, “Fairness is one of many cues that we have that we are socially connected. Fair treatment implies that others value us and that when there are resources to be shared in the future, we are likely to get our fair share” (Social [2014], 74). When we perceive unfairness, negative feelings arise.


How, then, do we promote fairness in our groups?

We begin by putting our need to express opinions or judgments aside and just listening to others. When all members of the group feel like their voices are equally heard—no matter the final decision—individuals will more likely have positive feelings because they were treated fairly.

Listening is a skill. It takes practice. These four steps can help you be a good listener:


Our listening skills will also sharpen as we learn to listen to the Spirit. Sometimes the Holy Ghost gives us answers to our prayers and we miss the personal inspiration because we are distracted by concerns or to-do lists. In a 2014 CES devotional, Sister Linda K. Burton gave some simple steps to help us receive personal revelation.


As we learn the social skill of listening to others and the spiritual skill of hearing the directions of the Spirit, we will progress in our earthly labors, and, more important, we will be happy in our labors.