Being a good listener is more important than it ever has been. With all the communication options – texting, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and all the social media options – miscommunication and misinterpretation can easily happen.
With so many quickly advancing technology options available, it seems we have to talk faster, walk faster, and cram more things into shorter periods of time. This can be helpful for accomplishing some things, but listening isn’t one of those things –especially when the other person needs to be heard.
I used to be bad at this – especially with my wife. I wanted to solve her problems or solve what I perceived were her problems. Recently I am more aware of this and even with myself, sometimes I tell the other person I may be talking with “I just need to talk out loud” so I can process my thoughts.
So really, how good do you think you are at listening? Here are a few quick questions you can use to rate yourself as a listener. When you are in a conversation:
- Are you thinking about your response when the other person is still talking?
- Do you give the other person your full attention or are you thinking of something else?
- Do you continually make eye contact?
- Do you pause 4-6 seconds after the other person is done talking?
- Do you respond with a similar issue?
- Are you a one-upper?
When it comes to listening, we should all be in “continuous improvement mode”. Listening is indeed an art that may need to be polished a bit, especially with the flow of information coming at rocket speed.
Action Items and Tips for becoming a Better Listener
- Don’t interrupt the speaker in the middle of his comments.
- Don’t interrogate. Ask a few open-ended questions.
- Don’t try to change the topic – even if the topic is uncomfortable for you.
Avoid common statements like:
- It’s not the end of the world.
- You’ll feel better in the morning.
- And especially don’t say, “Take a breath and relax”.
- Watch this funny YouTube video for a good example of listening and not solving.
Being a good listener can be challenging at times. Just remember God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth and we should use them in that proportion. Good Luck!!!