The most important skill that any people helper/developer can cultivate is to listen. Listening to people is not a passive activity, but an active one.
Leadership is about influence. Some leaders use positional power to manipulate behavior, but true leadership is relational. Good communication strengthens relationships, and the first step to good communication is good listening.
I have spent the last few weeks in my M.A. class learning about listening. It has been convicting, challenging, and motivating. I thought I was a pretty good listener until I took time to really evaluate my normal communication tendencies against these listening skills…
Listening with full attention
Sitting calm and centered. No fidgeting. Giving eye contact. Projecting warm curiosity. No distractions.
Listening with acceptance
No judgement. No forming opinions in the back of the mind. No planning a rebuttal.
Listening for understanding
“I hear you saying…” “Can you tell me more about that?”
Listening to hear more
Truly engaged and focused. Allowing for silence; not rushing to fill the quiet spaces. Waiting. Lean in.
Listening for information
Can I learn from what they are sharing? Is there something I need to hear? Not getting defensive. Open to hear more.
One exercise I did for the class was to try to listen to someone else talk for three to five minutes without saying a word – just making good eye contact and using body language to show interest and engagement. It was SO hard to not jump in with a comment, advice, or suggestions. You might want to try this… Let me know how it goes for you!
How are your listening skills? What do you do in order to listen well?
And to throw more info about listening into your excellent post, listening is a habit formed in our brain, body, and emotions over a lifetime. So, no two of us listen alike, which ups the ante to listen to others as they are instead of assuming everyone will respond like you do.
That is fascinating and makes sense to me. Thanks for adding value to the conversation! I will try to keep that in mind! I appreciate your visit and your commenting!
Thanks, Teri, for posting this. I know it’s something I really need to actively work on.
Me too, Tonja. Me too.
Very convicting, Terry! This is a skill I will be working on to my dying day, I know!! But it IS so important.
I’ve been quite convicted too! I am loving my coaching and counseling class though… and I am often reflecting back on what a joy it was to have you as my coach last year! Love to you! Hope to see you again soon!
Oh, not an easy thing to do – listen without offering comments. We’ve done that, and I will say that this is a skill that I see as an ABSOLUTE for ALL parents. It is often so difficult to listen to our children without judging, commenting, showing lack of interest – all of the things you mentioned, but it is a skill, that if mastered, will give us relationships with the most precious people in our lives that will reward us for a lifetime. Thank you for the reminder as I have found that the busyness of life has given me “excuses” to not listen as I should all the time. I have young men with grand ideas that I can easily squash (and have, I’m sorry to admit), and young women with dreams and aches that need to be loved and cared for instead of disregarded as irrelevant in 5 or 10 years (yes, I hate to confess I’m so guilty of doing this.) I am grateful, though, that we have a GOD that continually gives us opportunities and reminders, like your blog, that we need to stay the course and finish strong in ALL areas of our life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing from your heart and being an encouragement!!
Thank you, friend, for reading, commenting, but more than anything, allowing God to the post to touch your heart. I so appreciate your teachable, humble spirit and your desire to apply these principles to your beautiful family. May God bless your efforts and continue to bless you with opportunities to be an example for and an encouragement to others! Love to you!