ROCK YOUR WORLD with Listening, part 2
Last blog we discussed the eight reasons for developing a listening ministry. This one we’ll figure out a few little tricks to teach us to become better listeners.
Our daughter, when about five years old, crawled up into her daddy’s lap. As she snuggled into the crook of his arm, he continued reading his book.
“Daddy?” she asked.
“Mmmm?” he responded.
“Daddy!” she insisted.
“Yes?” He murmured from behind his book.
She worked her way in front of his book, placed her little hands on his cheeks and touched his nose with her own. “Daddy? Are you listening?”
The first “rule” is becoming a better listener is to put away distractions. Setting aside our own agenda tunes us into the person who needs us to listen to them.
Tuning in means keeping eye contact. William Shakespeare is often quoted as saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Looking into someone’s eyes changes us. There’s a connection that tells each of us, hey, someone cares.
Summarizing what the other person has said not only clarifies for our own head what was being said, but it offers the speaker the opportunity to correct us if we didn’t get it right. It also tells the speaker that we were listening. It only takes a few seconds, but it richly enhances the conversation. It also keeps us from interrupting the speaker since we can’t summarize what we haven’t heard and we can’t hear if we’re talking over their words.
Next, ask – instead of mind read. Even if you’ve been married for 40 years, you can still guess incorrectly what your spouse is going to say. Trust me on this! Just ask.
When you listen, just listen. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Don’t try to fix anything. And please, stop the “one-up” game. You know that one; where they tell you what a horrible experience they had at the dentist, but you have a worse story to tell. Just listen. If there is a lull in the conversation, be assured they will keep talking!
So what did my daughter have to say that was so important she needed her daddy’s full attention? She learned to go down the slide by herself. Yes, it was that important…to her. And that’s what this is all about; telling someone how very important they are to you, and ultimately to God.