Are You a Good Listener?
To be a good listener, you must try to listen in an active manner. First, pay attention. Nobody wants to talk to a wall, so paraphrase [summarise], clarify, and give feedback. Paraphrasing helps you understand correctly. Clarifying is asking questions until you fully understand what the other person means. Feedback is sharing your own thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way. Second, try to listen with compassion, identifying with what they are feeling. You may not like what’s being said but often as you listen you realise that, if you were in their shoes, you might feel that way too. ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.’ (Romans 12:15 NKJV) Third, try to listen with openness. Selective listening, defensive listening and filtered listening are not open listening. Listen as though you were an explorer and the person was from another island nation; their customs, beliefs and way of thinking are different from yours, and you’re trying to understand them. Finally, listen with awareness. Does what they are saying line up with the facts? Are they consistent? If you’ve listened actively, compassionately and openly, and still don’t understand their point of view, you don’t have to attack. Wait, and gather more information! Ask, ‘Could you tell me a bit more?’ or ‘Can you give me a specific example?’ Or you might say, ‘Thank you for letting me know your perspective.’ Or, ‘That’s interesting, I hadn’t considered it in that light.’ Or, ‘What you’re saying may have some truth to it. Tell me more.’ Jesus listened. And the art of listening is a Christ-like skill you must develop!