Many people like to talk.
Few people like to listen.
~ But, Love Listens Best.
To listen well you must enter conversation looking for ways to give love, not for ways to get love. You must be genuinely interested in offering her a safe place where she can be heard, understood, and have reflected back to her what she’s said.
It’s not a time to convince her to heed your sage advice, but a time to give space and value to her as a person as you listen to her thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
~ Listen loved.
To be a safe person for someone else, you need the keen awareness you are loved by the Master. You need to listen as someone already loved. Here is your strength and inner wholeness from which you can listen deeply without your own needs interfering.
Your confidence allows you to listen without the need to prove a point, highlight the other’s failures, or draw attention to your own accomplishments. When you listen to someone else knowing you are loved by the great I Am, you will naturally encourage others to stretch and grow by simply listening to them.
Listening in this manner you give a priceless gift.
A present that influences lives.
~ Listening includes an intense focus on the individual.
Contrary to popular belief, listening is not passive. It takes intense focus and energy if you want to listen well.
It’s not time to hijack the conversation and shift it to something you find more interesting. Or to be thinking about what you’re going to accomplish in the next hour.
~ Wait to hear her words and thoughts.
Love listens when it waits to hear her words and thoughts. It doesn’t jump to fill in the blanks because it thinks it already knows.
~ You have to listen long enough to hear what really matters.
Ever go into the woods to listen and observe the animals? The first fifteen minutes or so, disturbed by your intrusion, the critters hide. Only after you sit still for a bit do they feel safe enough to move about freely.
It’s like that with people.
Slow down, sit tight, listen long.
Don’t be afraid of 10 seconds of silence.
Ask thoughtful questions that follow up on their comments.
It’s then you will begin to hear what really matters . . .
~ Make eye contact
Eye contact is the cornerstone of nonverbal communication. It can actually be used to help repair troubled relationships.
When someone is looking you in the eyes be sure to look them in the eyes as well. As they talk, keep your natural gaze on them. When they look away, you can feel free to do the same. This simple exercise will help the other know you are fully focused on them.
In our era of smart phones we are making less eye contact all the time.
When someone makes eye contact with you, you feel heard. You experience their undivided attention.
~ Ask questions, or make statements, to clarify you understand correctly.
Questions and statements should be directly related to the conversation at hand.
Do not hijack the conversation. It is a common occurrence when the conversation becomes uncomfortable for the listener. The one you’re listening to, however, needs you to be genuinely engaged.
If you feel the inclination to change the conversation, for any reason, ask God to give you His ears and perspective.
If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who give generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV
~ Wait until the person pauses to ask clarifying questions.
It’s helpful to have paper and pen in hand at the beginning of your conversation and to be clear that you will be taking notes on things you want to clarify or to give further thought regarding it.
If you think you may forget your question, briefly jot it down rather than interrupt.
~ Try to walk in the other person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling.
Empathy is key to communicating well. Listening well includes empathy.
For example, f you need to end the conversation, end it while you are talking. Otherwise, if you interrupt her to say your conversation needs to end, she will feel less safe than if you were to interrupt yourself to say the same.
~ Give appropriate responses regularly while listening.
Expressing yourself throughout your interaction with brief one word responses such as, hmm, I hear you, or a nod of your head, will give her reassurance that your are following the conversation.
~ Listen closely for non verbals.
Body language is always a big part of communication. It should be observed and noted for any inconsistencies, or reinforcements of what is being verbalized.
If you see a discrepancy, describe the contradiction, and engage her thoughts on it.
~ Listening builds relationship.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV
Relationships flourish in places where souls are touched by, “Tell me more,” “That must have been fun,” and “You look sad today.” A place where deep listening happens, people draw closer together, relationships grow, and lives are transformed.
Speakers influence lives, but when listening loved, listeners influence lives even more.