Stop and Go Listening

Fifteen times Jesus said: “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear.”

Larry King once said: “Every morning I remind myself that nothing I say this day will teach me anything, so if I am going to learn I’ll do it by listening.”

The book of James in the Bible states: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

“Every morning I remind myself that nothing I say this day will teach me anything, so if I am going to learn I’ll do it by listening.” – Larry King

In order to listen well, here are a few things we should stop and go on:

  1. Stop thinking about our own agenda.
    1. If we want to truly hear what the other person is trying to communicate it means putting our agenda aside for a moment.
    2. We should not try to change the subject to something that relates to our own experiences.
  2.  Stop trying to look impressive.
    1. If we are trying to impress the other person our mind is clouded with thoughts like: “What are they thinking about me?” or “Do they like me?” When our mind is cloudy, it is difficult to hear what the other person is saying.
    2. If we jump to conclusions on what the other person is saying, or we finish their sentence for them, we may look smart, but we will impair our listening ability.
    3. If we come across as the expert or with hyper self-confidence, the chances are the other person will be less likely to share.
  3. Stop taking on a role that is not ours.
    1. We need to stop and think about what our role in the other person’s life is. Are we a stranger, a friend, a parent, a coach, an officer, a pastor, a counsellor or a fellow community member? If we take on a role that is not ours, and assume some authority or position the other person does not see in us, the chances are they will not want to share and our will hearing is distorted.
  4. Go ask wise questions.
    1. Questions will help us focus and demonstrate we care.
    2. An open question will encourage the speaker to share and let them know we are interested. They usually start with why, what, where, which, and how. “Where are you from?” “What was it that concerned you?” “How did you find about our company?”
    3. A paraphrasing question allows us to check our own understanding of what the other person said. “Am I understanding you correctly when you said that…?”
    4. A reflective question will help us understand the situation and the emotions the other person is feeling. “When you say you were hurt how did you deal with that?”
    5. A hypothetical question will help us to get a deeper understanding of where the person is coming from. It may help them understand a new idea and open them up to our thoughts. “What would you do if…?”
  5. Go give undivided attention.
    1. Think about what the other person is saying more than about how we will reply. We can be so busy in our minds formulating our response, that we don’t actually hear all they have to say. This is when the other person usually asks us: “Are you really listening to me?”
    2. We should stretch ourselves mentally and emotionally to not get bored or look disinterested. This includes putting away our smart phones! We can always disagree and share our thoughts later, but as St. Francis said, “Seek first to understand.”
    3. Studying the Chinese word for listening serves as an excellent model for understanding what is needed to be a good listener. We should not only listen with our ears, but also with our eyes, our hearts and with our full attention:
  6. Go speak – only after listening.
    1. Like we read in James 1:19 we should speak, but only after we have listened. Then what we have to say will be much more likely to be received.