Relationship Topic - 11 Things You Need To Know About Listening
1 It’s the language of love – if you listen you are actually demonstrating that you prefer them above yourself, their opinion over your own.
2 It’s the first demonstration of Humility. Prideful people don’t listen, they don’t think they have to, they know better. If you think you’re better, or your opinion is better, you won’t listen. But God says He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Whoever humbles themselves will be exalted. Listening is humility practice.
3 Seek to understand before being understood. This is the secret of listening. If you start each conversation with this in mind, it will remove self-seeking, and replace it with them-seeking. Do you really want to understand them? Or do you just want them to understand you. Do you think they are more important? God’s word says to prefer others above yourself. It starts with what they say.
4 Give Full Body Attention – so they feel listened to. Look for the next opportunity to talk with someone. And decide beforehand to give that person your full body attention. Face them completely, eye contact, no distractions, not on your phone, or email, or shuffling papers on your desk. Turn to them, face them fully, and let them know that right now in this moment they are the most important thing in your life, nothing is more important that what they have to say. You’re fully interested in them. They will feel respected, and God can use you to help them on their journey of discovery – the truth He wants to lead them in, the deliverance He has for them.
5 Focus on what they are saying, not what you want to say next. Focus on understanding, not what to say. If you’re not already thinking of what you want to say next, you are finally really listening. Let them discover more of themselves and their thoughts, sometimes just their communication gives God the chance to prompt them with what’s missing, their need for Him.
6 Wait until they are fully finished speaking. Give them the opportunity to fully express themselves. You might clarify the time you have, so they nor you feel rushed. You might even say – please share right now, I’ve got about five minutes before I have my next meeting, but we can also reschedule more time if you need. What was on your heart to share? I want to hear…
7 Don’t hijack the conversation. Most people interrupt with what they think the person is about to say. They finish their sentence before the person has a chance to get it out of their mouth. A 90% of the time, it’s not what they were going to say, or how they wanted to communicate it. Don’t finish their sentence for them. It just throws them off track, makes them lose their flow, and now they have to try and recover – which they can’t. They have to now correct your error of understanding, and now they can’t get back to where they were – which was just about to lead to them feeling like they finally could explain what they think or feel. Until you interrupted and hijacked their conversation. Don’t be selfish – you get no points by knowing what they will say next. You don’t. Only they do. Let them express their heart. Even if you were right – don’t try to guess where they are going… respect and honor them enough to let them drive the car, and choose the direction of the conversation.
8 Ask A Clarifying Question, and then listen further. The first thing you should say in any conversation – is a clarifying question. “If I’m hearing you correctly – you really think xyz. Did I hear you right? How did you feel about that? Is there anything you wanted to add, or “Are there any new thoughts that come to mind about that situation?” However God leads you. A clarifying question helps them discover further things in their conversation journey. And helps them put to words what they are feeling in their heart.
9 Listen for thoughts and feelings. Clarifying questions help them distinguish between thought – what they think about something. And feelings – what those events or words caused them to feel inside. Thoughts are intellectual, feelings are emotional, and feelings have greater power than intellect. People’s responses are driven by emotion more than logic. That’s why people do stupid things. Encouraging them to distinguish between the two, helps you understand them better, and helps them discover for themselves what they really think, and how they really feel. Then they can determine if their thoughts and feelings are accurate or slightly misperceived. And if what is justifiable to think or feel, is really the best course to pursue, or if a broader or slightly different perspective may have value for them.
10 Respect Them. Don’t try to fix them, respect them enough to allow them to be wrong. One of the greatest things you can do for someone, is love them enough to let them be wrong. They may just not be ready to change. They may not be able to discern truth or understand a different perspective. That’s ok. You can’t fix people, only God can. Love and respect them enough to let them choose their own beliefs.
11 Ask God what to Pray and What to Say – be OK with not saying anything. Are you OK with not saying anything? God may use this opportunity – now that they finally found someone who will truly listen, and perhaps for the first time could get their true feelings out – without being interrupted, hijacked, or condemned. Often that discovery process opens their mind and heart to the fact they might be missing something, or misunderstanding something. It may be that God uses you at this very moment, to speak the truth in love. Listening – has already demonstrated you love them. God may give you the go-ahead to speak into their life. But It may be just a time to pray, not to say. Are you willing to say nothing, if God tells you it’s not the time yet? God is not in a hurry. He loves them, and He loves you. You’ve been wrong more often than not. He’s got this, He loves them more than you do. Praying that you will ask God what to pray and what to say. And be ok – if God says – say nothing. Just pray.
Praying that you will love people by listening. That this humility practice will be your daily workout. Praying that as you love well, by listening well. God will open doors for His healing and hope to be the oil and wine they need in their life. Praying that His truth and His love – will be available through you, because you are soaked in His presence, and His Word, and you are willing to just listen – so the love of God, can flow through you.
A couple of resources that address this skill of listening are worth the read. Listening for Heaven’s Sake, and Quick To Listen Leaders by Dave Ping. Praying that God grows your capacity to listen – to hear their heart, so you earn the opportunity to love them further.
A PRISM Topic: is God’s Word on a single subject. A Relationship Topic is a perspective from God's Word on relationships. A PRISM Topic Packet is a grouping of PRISM or Relationship Topics of similar subjects... part of the M: Meditate on theWord of PRISM – (5 Things You Can Do Daily in God’s Word) to transform the way you think. Ask God what PRISM Topic or Relationship Topic He wants you to meditate on today.Take your PRISM Topic, Relationship Topic or Packet with you! Come back to them multiple times a day! “It is to be with him, and he is to meditate on it day and night, so that he may learn to fear the LORD…” - Deuteronomy 17:19