– The art of listening

If you ask someone what the essential elements of good communication are, you might be surprised how many would not even think to mention the importance of being a good listener. Yet, in a two-way conversation, it is so vital to be able to control yourself and not interrupt the other person when they are speaking. More importantly, you must be able to focus outside yourself and understand the other person.

We are all too often only interested in making our own ideas and opinions known. Instead of listening, we are only thinking about what we want to say next. Developing good listening skills takes practice and is something that few people take the time to really master. No skill can show your sincerity as much as that of being a real intense listener.

Why write about this as a blog post? The reason is that we can better minister to people if we really listen to them and understand their needs. Parents, church leaders and missionaries should know how very important it is to sincerely listen. It is told in the Bible how Jesus was in the temple carrying on a two-way conversation. Jesus was of course the master and no one was his equal in knowledge and yet he had patience and love enough to listen and carry on a conversation.

“…sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46)

Sometimes being a good listener means that you do not even offer advice, but that you just sit there and empathize with the person in a non-judgmental manner. Look for nonverbal messages. Sometimes what they are not saying is as important as what they are saying. Sense when people are afraid, frustrated, confused or worried and ask them if you can help. Jesus was keenly aware of the basic needs of people he taught. Look at the compassion he showed when he sensed that people who came to him to listen were hungry.

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2)

He fed the thousands with bread and fish because he loved each one of them. He showed them he cared for them and knew of their needs.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” — Theodore Roosevelt.

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