My wife started to tell me something the other day and after about two sentences, I had already formed an opinion about what she was talking about. I bet you can guess what happened next; I put in my two cents worth! She stopped me and said, “You are not listening to me!” And she was right.
Truthfully, I stink at listening. But how can I learn different? Let’s look at what Jesus said in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:3-9 and get some clues.
In this parable, there are four different kinds of seeds and where they fall is how they grow. Some landed on the rocky shallow places and had no room to grow. Some were in the thorns and got choked by the weeds. But some fell on good soil and produced a bountiful crop.
Great lesson but what does it have to do with listening? When you read those verses, you see that Jesus started with LISTEN and then His last words were HE WHO HAS EARS, LET HIM HEAR.
Listening was important to Jesus and should be to us as well. I did some more reading on good listening hygiene and this is what I found.
*We are not naturally good listeners. We like to swap stories so we interrupt.
*We are uncomfortable with emotions so we rush the talker along.
*We get listener burnout. When people go on and on we give quick advice to cut them off.
SO WHAT DOES A GOOD LISTENER LOOK (HEAR) LIKE?
(1) Overcome natural inclination to fix the talker.
(2) Keep the conversation brief.
(3) Be fully engaged in the moment.
(4) Put away cellphones, turn off TV, sit close and lean in.
(5) Make eye contact.
(6) Reflect back verbally (i.e. remarks like that must have been_____).
(7) Ask open-ended questions (i.e. How did that make you feel?).
(8) Give minimal encouraging “yeps” and “hmms” to urge them to continue.
(9) Summarize by asking “Am I understanding you completely?” and give a recap statement.
In summary, active listening includes thinking through your feelings before speaking, don’t try to fix, don’t rush, stay calm, talk slow, and take deep breaths. The key for me is letting go of my need to talk.
This is so important in my relationship with my wife, my friends, but what about those guys that are lost and need someone to listen to them?
Jesus is speaking to us. Are we listening? Something to ponder.