I love how things learned from people in the past can really be a benefit to you for the rest of your life. For many years, I worked for my best friend’s husband who was a CPA. I learned so many things from him – but one that I have used over and over is the negotiating tactic of “he who speaks first, loses.” In other words, when you are in a situation where you are wanting something – whether by gaining it or buying it – present your desire, give the why, make the offer, and then be quiet. If you go ahead and start talking again, the other person has a much better chance to reject your offer. But when there is silence, it can be a game changer. I have used that technique to buy several vehicles. I try to use it when I am mentoring someone. I have even used it on my kids! In today’s world, we almost feel like we need to scream to be heard. How about changing that? Why don’t we use our ears more – allowing those around us to trust that they are being heard – that we value their thoughts and opinions. After all, we have two ears and only one mouth – we should listen twice as much as we speak! In the beginning of my blended family, we had family night which also provided the opportunity for each of us to vent and share feelings about how the dynamics of our family was going. My kids were a little more vocal about how they felt things could change or were unfair. This allowed Dan and I to see this blending process from their perspective. This also allowed Dan and I the opportunity to make some changes if we felt it would be beneficial. There were times that we didn’t feel a change was necessary – but at least the kids knew that they could be open with us. We should all take the time to respect each other and truly listen to each other. The Bible verse that backs this up is Jeremiah 29:12, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Wow… Can you imagine if God tuned you out the way that so many of us tune out each other? I must confess that there are times that Dan is sharing with me but my mind is thinking about something else. There have been times when my children were sharing their experiences of their day and I was thinking about what to fix for dinner. And yet, when I speak, I automatically expect total attention. The old saying is true – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – and that is from Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. As you interact today with your spouse, kids, co-workers, friends and even strangers in the grocery store line, take the time to use the negotiating tactic of “he who speaks first, loses.” I think you will find that you gain more information, understanding and wisdom when you challenge yourself to listen in the same way that you would want God to listen to you!