“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19 NIV
As many of you know, I stand at the stairs at my church before each service. I was off campus this Sunday and even had someone tell me “who took my place” while I was away. I love talking with people…actually, I love listening to people and hear their story. I wasn’t always like that. I was challenged by big crowds and always had my head on a swivel. I tried to greet everyone, wave as folks went by and carry on a conversation. I changed that. My goal in a conversation is to be “in the moment” and a really good listener.
I want to encourage you to listen more than you speak. The author James wrote one of the most profound nuggets I have ever seen in my life. Slow to speak and quick to listen is a great way to grow, learn and bridge a relationship with someone. In fact, I will add my own nugget – “You will rarely learn anything when you are talking.” The only way for you to talk is for you to come up with something that is already in you. Why not take the opportunity to allow someone else to share their wisdom and you can grow from it.
Here are three ways to become a good listener. First, make good eye contact. I used to really struggle with this one. I really worked hard to gain the confidence to look people in the eye. In doing so, I am telling them they are the most important person in the room. Also, listen for key words and phrases. You will need to say back those key words to verify you are hearing them correctly. A lazy listener is more centered on their own words than on the person speaking. Finally, ask questions. Ask to get clarity, prove a point and to understand better. It actually is a great way of digging into the subject and engaging your own thoughts by seeking more information or insights. Try one of these steps today and you will begin to notice that others speaking to you will be more engaged. (One bonus tip – genuinely smile. When you are enjoying the conversation, they will too.)
My grandson, Jax, loves to grab my ears when we play on the floor together. He doesn’t say much now, but he gets my attention. What will it take for someone else to get your ear?