The old adage of, "I know you can hear me, but are you really listening to me...." seems to be a recurring theme among men that I talk to both in life and in ministry. The real problem here is that when you strip back the layers it really isn't just one-sided - rather, it takes two sides. Countless relationships find communication problems that start out small but end up monumental. Others seem to let the little things pass them by and then realize over several years that these "minor problems" have become major and in some cases even ending relationships.
Why? What is the root cause and how does it happen so quickly (look at the previous blog post and realize that we all have an enemy who roams the earth looking to devour - especially those who walk with God.
How to be a good listener:
- Step 1: Be a good friend and listen to what the person (wife/husband/friend) is saying without interrupting or hearing what you want to hear and interjecting along the way
- Step 2: Remember that God gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth - I really think that this was for a reason: Don't just hear, but listen to what is being said.
- Step 3: Do not be quick to judge. Be slow to speak and slow to become angry
- Step 4: When you decide to work on being a good listener, then put down the phone, the texts, and turn your eyes upon the one who is talking to you. This instantly shows them that they have your attention and respect.
- Step 5: If you have distractions that you cannot control (phone, tv, computers, etc.,) remove them or mute them.
- Step 6: Body language - make sure that you are giving them every sign and body movement that you are engaged and that the world (at this current juncture) could end and that the only thing that matters is them.
- Step 7: Along the way, without being rude, cocky, ignorant or whatever could be deemed negative, ask the person to clarify when in doubt, or say something along the line of, "If I am listening to you correctly, I believe that you are saying...., or that you mean.... - and then ask them to clarify and then continue.
- Step 8: Be intentional with your new-found listening skills and ask relevant and insightful questions in regards to the person, the situation and the subject. This will have positive impacts for both you and the talker as both are feeling validated.
- Step 9: Don't force the conversation. Even if you know that they are holding back or not ready to fully open (and even if you know what could be said next - Don't say anything) by listening and being a good listener, then you will show that you can be trusted (with listening) and that sooner or later that person may decide to open fully up to you.
- Step 10: Regardless of the level of conversation, do not devalue it or make it seem like it is not relevant. Whatever the topic or the issue or the conversation show the person (spouse or friend) that they matter, they are relevant and you do care about what they are saying
- Step 11: Do not make light of it. Do not discard it and do not blow it off. If it is important to them, no matter what the subject, then value that person by valuing what is important to them regardless of your own feelings or knowledge
- Step 12: Pray before you talk, during and after for God to lead you the way that you should go. Listen for the Spirit to guide you to either encouragement, comfort or urging of that person.
Men, whether we like it or not, God has intended us to be the Spiritual leaders. That is a big necessity that is lacking in a lot of cultures. Where are the men with integrity, honor, valor and the like? Imagine if we all worked on being a better listener at home, school, work and community (and church) - what would that look like to those around us? How do you think people would respond?
What are some of your steps?
Let's hear from you,