We all want to be listened to. We all want to be heard. It’s a good feeling when someone truly listens to you, isn’t it? You know it because they are looking you in the eye, they aren’t glancing at their phone or across your shoulder, they are repeating what you said so they know they heard it correctly. Learning to be a good listening takes a lot of effort but it is always worth it.
I listen to women everyday who are often in crisis. They want – they need – to be heard. And I may be the only one they can talk to at the point in their life. I have to be a good listener.
Listening to understand
I believe the greatest ministry is listening – not just hearing but listening. Listening takes effort and it requires awareness. We must listen to understand, not respond. When someone is in need, what we have to say doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.
Tips to be a better listener
1. Pay attention. Remove distractions (close your computer, put down your phone, go to a quiet room).
2. Your facial expressions and body language matters. Look into their eyes, don’t cross your arms, sit facing them.
3. Don’t interrupt. Interrupting someone means you aren’t listening to them because you are thinking of ways to respond. Just listen and don’t interrupt.
4. Repeat what was said before you comment.
5. Lose the judgment and don’t jump to conclusions; don’t give your personal thoughts or feelings unless they are requested.
6. Don’t assume you know more about the situation than the person who is speaking.
7. Be honest and respectful. If they ask for your honest opinion, give it. But most of all, be respectful of their position and thoughts.
Be the safe space someone needs
I’ve found it is so important not to tell someone what to do, but to offer them a safe space to parse out their options. If you listen long enough, you’ll hear the need and if they are given the opportunity to talk long enough, they will often find their own solution.
Be a safe person. Wouldn’t you rather your friend bug you everyday than lose them and wonder what you could have done to help? Oftentimes they just need someone to listen to. Be that person.