Most of the time, I'm a good listener, except when I am tired or feeling impatient. Then I need to practice the principles of being an effective listener, which is more than just avoiding interrupting others while they’re speaking or finishing someone else’s sentences.
Being a good listener is being content to listen to another person’s entire thought and seeking to understand their heart rather than being preoccupied with forming a clever comment in our mind or waiting for the other person to breathe, so we interject.
Listening is vital to good communication, but effective listening is often hindered by the fast-paced way we live and the tendency to treat communication as a race. There is the silence of people not even talking anymore and living together in quiet desperation.
Our children all talk. They could talk your ear off often, and they usually don’t have any trouble expressing themselves. One of the things some of them have loved to do is share their thoughts and concerns as they go to bed at night. It’s usually late, I’m tired, and my bed is calling. But I learnt early on that when people, especially your children, want to talk; it is wise to take the time to listen, even if it is late at night.
When people in our world want to talk and share their hearts, it’s essential to give them time and actively focus on listening rather than allowing ourselves to be distracted by all the technology around us; our phones, TVs, laptops, gadgets, and our thoughts and agendas.
Here are some keys to being a good listener:
1. Be in the moment:
When we practice good listening, we stay in the moment, practising the power of being in the now. We look at the person; we listen; we watch their face, expressions, and body language. We listen not only to their words but also their heart. We stay in the moment, listening and learning.
2. Clarify what you are hearing and sensing.
When we actively listen, we ask questions to understand. We want to make sure that we see it correctly through the other person’s eyes, sensing and feeling as they do. We pause, reflect, and ask clarifying questions.
“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.”
3. Slow down
Slowing down our responses aids us in hearing others. It takes a lot of energy to be on the edge of our seats, ready to rush off to do the next thing or waiting to interject with our response. Slow down.
4. Take the pressure off.
There are many times when I listen to someone, and I don’t have the answers or have anything to say. And that’s okay. I listen, I pray, and I choose to relax. If I have some wisdom or revelation, it will come to me as I’m quietly listening or even later when I have time to talk to God.
If we don’t feel like we always have to say something, we won’t feel so much pressure and will be more peaceful and ready to listen. It enhances the quality of our relationships. We don’t always have to have the answers.
People everywhere want to be heard and feel someone has listened to and cared for them. It’s not always necessary to solve problems, but simply that we hear people and have taken the time to care about what they are saying.
Listening is an art we can all practice. We listen to others, to God, and our hearts.
Today, slow down, take the pressure off, live in the moment, and listen. Listen to both God and others speaking to you with your ears, eyes, and heart.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
“Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
Prayer: Lord, please help me to listen. To listen firstly to you and give others my time and focus so that they feel heard. Help me slow down, relax and hear those around me that I might be a blessing. In Jesus Name, Amen.