What makes a good communicator? What are the skills that come to mind? The ability to present your material? An understanding of non-verbal cues? The masterful use of tone and dynamics? There may be another skill you have not considered: Listening. Communication experts consider listening to be an advanced skill.
It’s easy to tell when someone’s not paying attention, but it can be surprisingly tricky to know what good listening looks like. Good listening is one of the most important things we can do to improve our relationships, develop our understanding, and be better equipped in any negotiation. Listening is more than the act of hearing. It’s creating an environment in which the other person FEELS heard. If we truly listen to someone else’s perspective, we can gain understanding and engage in more meaningful dialogue. People who feel heard will trust more willingly.
How do you Listen well? Don’t leave learning on the Table.
Jesus tells his audience in Luke 8, “18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen…Luke 8:18
The ability to listen gave the listeners the ability to take hold of the valuable lesson He was teaching. Proverbs show us how we can get in the way of our own learning:
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” Proverbs 18:2.
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” Proverbs 18:13
In order to become a great listener, we must be aware of pride, selfishness, and self-importance, which might lead us to short-circuit a great connection.
Personal Challenge: Cultivate Curiosity.
Try some of these skills to upgrade your listening skills:
- Stay in the moment, and remove distractions.
- Take this posture – When they talk we learn.
- Be genuine and authentic.
- Try not to interrupt.
- Wait for natural pauses and ask open-ended questions.
- Summarize what you just heard.
- Ask for clarification if you need it.
- Don’t be afraid of silence.
- Listen to seek collaboration.
- Listen to Understand, not just to respond.
As an application, pick 3 of these skills to actively engage in today as you communicate with people around you and see how it improves your interactions.