The Lost Art of Listening

Brent BrewerBlog0 Comments


Recently I started a new job. There are challenges and enthusiasm, but I sometimes sense awkwardly the “here comes the new guy” effect. One of the key values that I am seeking to establish in this new opportunity is listening.  Before putting together a direct action plan, I am intentionally seeking to hear what others have to say about our church. In the upcoming posts, I am going to share some of the common themes that I have been hearing.

Every one of us wants people to listen to our ideas, stories, and passions. But how many of us are inclined to be good listeners?  If I had to describe myself, it would be with the term “distracted listener.” I find myself in this quandary typically in a crowded space. I convince myself and the person I am conversing with, “I’m listening” but my mind and sometimes my eyes are scanning the room to see who it is that I need to speak with after this conversation concludes. There are others who are so preoccupied in their minds, that they can’t wait for you to stop talking so they can start talking. Stephen Covey says “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

In the book of James, it tells us that we should be quick to hear, slow to speak. This verse reminds us that we have two ears and one tongue; we should listen in proportion. It takes strength to hold our tongues and deliberate until thoughts are fully developed. Jesus offers grace to encourage us and become better-equipped listeners as we yield to Him.

What are some keys to good listening:
1. Maintain good eye contact.
2. Ask clarifying questions that lead to deeper understanding.
3. Cognitively process the conversation at a deeper level.
4. Don’t interrupt or become solutions based.
5. Visualize and empathize with what the speaker is saying.