“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry …” (James 1:19)
Someone quipped, “God gave us two ears and one mouth because we need to listen twice as much as we talk.” Learning that means being “quick to listen, slow to speak.” Good listening builds relationships. But good listeners aren’t born, they’re bred!
So here are a few suggestions to improve your listening:
- Listen without interrupting. Resist the temptation to jump in and finish the sentence, or hijack the floor. Rein yourself in — just listen.
- Listen to understand. Try to understand their point of view, feelings, thinking and needs. Good listening is hearing what they actually think, mean or feel, not what you imagine they do. Instead of guessing, ask, “Am I understanding you correctly? Do you mean …? Are you feeling …?” In other words, don’t assume — verify.
- Listen without judging. Don’t rush to conclusions. If what they say doesn’t quite add up, keep listening. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13). When you hear more, it may make sense.
- Listen without correcting, countering or devaluing. Saying, “That’s not the way it was,” or, “What did you expect? If you hadn’t …” or, “You’re just being too sensitive,” puts people on guard and stops real communication.
- Validate the speaker. Accept their perceptions and feelings as valid expressions of a valued person. “If I understand you correctly, you’re thinking … feeling … Am I right?” Ask them to help get you on the same page with them. “Given what you’ve told me, I can see why you’d feel what you feel,” is very validating and will increase their confidence and willingness to consider and reconsider the Jesus solutions you may offer.
Heavenly Father, help me listen more — to YOUR voice and others, so I can understand others better and truly communicate with them. Thank you Lord for listening to me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.