Simple and short post on the importance of listening. Hearing is easy. Listening is hard. Yes, it’s simple enough in principle but harder to live. In many cases we are quiet only to speak what we have on our mind instead of listening to one another with an intent to receive. Here are six lessons that David Mathis gives on the concept of good listening:
- 1. GOOD LISTENING REQUIRES PATIENCE – “Unfortunately, many of us are too preoccupied with ourselves when we listen. Instead of concentrating on what is being said, we are busy either deciding what to say in response or mentally rejecting the other person’s point of view.” Janet Dunn. Good listening requires concentration and hearing the other person until he’s done speaking. It takes energy to block out all the distractions, turn off the smartphones, and be attentive.
- 2. GOOD LISTENING IS AN ACT OF LOVE – Poor listening rejects; good listening embraces. Poor listening diminishes others; good listening says others matter. “Just as love to God beging with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.” Bonhoeffer
- 3. GOOD LISTENING ASKS PERCEPTIVE QUESTIONS – Ask open-ended questions that gently peels the onion and probes beneath the surface. It watches carefully for nonverbal communication, but doesn’t interrogate and pry for details the speaker doesn’t want to share.
- 4. GOOD LISTENING IS MINISTRY – Listening can be a greater service than speaking. There will be days when the most important ministry we do is square our shoulders to some hurting person, uncross our arms, lean forward, make eye contact, and hear his pain all the way to the bottom.
- 5. GOOD LISTENING PREPARES US TO SPEAK WELL – “We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” (Bonhoeffer) He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13
- 6. GOOD LISTENING REFLECTS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – Our inability to listen well to others may reflect the noise that is drowning out the voice of God. “Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” (Bonhoeffer)