Communication is more important than ever in our high-speed, high-tech world, and yet we seem to be devoting less and less time to really listening. Have you noticed that genuine listening is becoming obsolete?
Hearing and listening are two different animals. Hearing refers to the sound that enters your ears. Listening, however, requires more. It requires focus and concentrated effort, both mental and at times physical.
There is an art to listening well
I’ve had a few great teachers who have helped me hone my listening skills. I have a long way to go at mastering the art of listening, mind you. But because I believe listening is a critically important skill, I want to share a little about my teachers and the lessons I learned from them.
I inherited the gift of gab from my mom. She was a real sensei—with a black belt in talking to strangers as well as public speaking. Yet, she humbly admitted her gift was also a weakness because she often failed to listen when others were talking. Determined to do something about her lack of listening skills, she prayed and asked God to help. And he did. I was a witness to the progression.
Being A Good Listener is a Choice
Mom recognized she needed help and chose to do something. She asked the Lord to help bridle her tongue.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26
Be Willing to Learn
Humbly seek God’s guidance and supernatural strength through His word and other godly resources.
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15
My husband, Scott, is a reserved man unless the conversation is about sports, that is. He is also a ‘thinker’. It takes him a while to answer even simple questions, which at the beginning of our relationship drove my bananas. But I’ve learned to respect this quality. Now, when he does speak, I’m all ears because I know it is something well-thought-out and most likely important.
I come from a family of people who say what they think. I remember during an argument many years ago, Scott telling me, “You know, you don’t have to say everything you think.” What an epiphany!
You cannot listen well if you’re still talking.
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
Because my husband is a thinker, I have learned to wait and make sure he’s finished his thought process before I speak. I look at his face for visual cues. If I interrupt him, I may miss what he wanted to communicate.
Wait Patiently During a Lull
“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Proverbs 18:13
My middle son, Chad inherited his grandma’s gift of gab. From a young age, the boy had a way with words and he wanted everyone to listen. If I was busy doing another task while listening to him, he would become frustrated. Once he even put both hands on either side of my cheeks saying, “Wook (look) at my eyes, Mommy.”
Our body language speaks without words. We should make eye contact, nod, and acknowledge the person we are listening to.
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel.” Proverbs 5:1 (emphasis added)
When my kids grew into teenagers, communication became more of a challenge. There were more interruptions, less time to talk, and they were being exposed to new ideas. I had to learn to listen without judging or jumping to conclusions.
Keep an Open Mind
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
When telling my young children to do a task, I often would ask them to repeat it back to me. “What did Mommy ask you to do?”
Once my daughter gave me a dose of my own medicine saying, “What did I tell you I want for dessert, Mommy?” I laughed, of course! But it helps to make sure the message was received the way we intend.
Once the person is finished talking, it’s important to let them know that we heard and understood them correctly. This is also the time to ask if they want feedback on what was spoken.
“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinion.” Proverbs 18:2
One of the most powerful ways to love and connect with another person is to listen—really listen.
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) March 20, 2017
Have you noticed that listening well is becoming a lost art? What tips work for you?
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Beckie — very interesting post. I have found many people are thinking about what they are going to say next when you are finished taking with them instead of listening. Really listening means to put away your own thoughts and reactions. The same way with God. We must be willing to hear what He has for us instead of trying to finish His sentences. Nice blog and I Ike the way you use your husband to illustrate your point. De
Del, Thanks for mentioning that we must put away our own thoughts when listening to God too. Great point!
Listening . . . really listening to one another is an art form and a skill all of us need to have better and more meaningful relationships with one another.
Beckie, I’m reading a great book right now that you might enjoy – it’s called The Listening Life by Adam McHugh. It’s a wonderful wake-up call, as was your post here, to how we should nurture and nourish our ability as Christians to truly listen to each other. Very insightful!
I’ve missed your comments at my blog as of late. Were you only following on Facebook? You can access me at https://marthaorlando.blogspot.com. Would love to hear from you, sister!
Hi Martha! Thanks for sharing the book you’ve been reading and including your the link to your blog. I think the emails went to spam for some reason?
Beckie, you are so right. Listening is becoming a lost art from. I am guilty of thinking about my response before the other person is done talking. Thank you for the practical advice along with some great scripture to pray through to become a better listener.
Patty, I’m with you! I’m so glad it served as practical advice. It was helpful for my own growth to write 🙂
Thanks for the post and the reminder to keep growing in this area. One helpful hint I read (not sure where, maybe The Coaching Habit) that I’m working on is to “stay curious a little longer.” Instead of thinking about what I will say next, I’m working on trying to find out a little more from the one sharing. Still have a long way to go before this becomes a default.
Brian, thanks for the great tip. And I’m right there with you on the growing process 🙂
P.S. I truly enjoy your blog. Always a little nugget of truth for the day.
OK, Beckie– somebody’s gotta make this comment re. your article, and since no one was kind enough to save me from it, here goes… ‘I hear you’. (Sorry about that–good treatment of an important topic. Thanks)
Ron, I needed a good chuckle 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
Sharing this on my personal Facebook page. Great post full of wisdom.
Misty, Thanks! I’m so glad you found it helpful.
Yes, So important. I almost lost a friendship and I lost a job due to lack of listening. I teach leadership skills and do an entire workshop on Active Listening. Thank you for the reminder. I believe everyone needs this great skill, especially me.
Cherrilynn, What a wonderful workshop to teach. I think we are all growing in the art of listening and communicating effectively. I know I sure am!
Blessings on your teaching, writing, and speaking!
All honor and glory to God!
Wow. This is great.
Thanks, David. I’m glad you found this helpful.
Great post, Beckie! And yes, listening is becoming a lost art. You gave some very helpful insight into this. I attended a training this weekend that included ways to listen well. Now, if I can just implement those ways. Thanks again for sharing this!
Crickett, I’m with you—still growing!
Thanks for taking the time to comment. The training you attended sounds like something every church should have.
These are the lessons I had to learn with my husband, too! It sounds like we have similar family dynamics! I’m still learning.
Beckie, this is a great post! These are all the things I’m always telling my family we all need to do, but you’ve summed it all up so nicely here… and with bible verses to back up your wisdom. I’m also a work in process. I love to talk, so I’ve been working extra hard on listening. It’s hard when you have a highly verbal family, and everybody is trying to be heard! But we are learning together… one day at a time! God bless you, in Jesus’ name! 💙
Angela, yes, I’m with you. I’m definitely a work in progress. I like to speak my mind. But I’m learning to see if my mind lines up with the mind of Christ. The result is usually me asking Him to put a guard over my mouth so foolishness doesn’t fly out. That’s the thing with words—you cannot unsay them.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Listening is such an important skill, sometimes I want to jump in and give advise, or tell how I have experienced something similar, when what they really need is for me to just listen.
Alice, I’m so glad you found this helpful. I “hear” what you’re saying and find the same to be true. I’m learning and to rely more on God’s wisdom.
Thanks for stopping by Spotlight and taking the time to comment.
Blessings to you!