In today’s “fast-paced” culture, we often find ourselves multi-tasking — attempting to text, tweet, post, email, and carry on a conversation — all at the same time. All the while, our minds are bouncing from topic to topic, never slowing down long enough to consider who or what we are neglecting or overlooking.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
I’m sure I am not the only one who struggles in this area, who finds it difficult at times to slow down, relax, and put everything else aside to attentively listen to what others are saying. If we want to effectively respond, we must attentively listen.
If you struggle like I do, I want to challenge you to find time to slow down and apply new habits when spending time with others. God’s Word clearly reminds us how important it is to listen attentively rather than respond quickly.
“ Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Proverbs 18:13 (NLT)
It’s reasonable to want to be fully heard and understood. That’s why it’s important we exercise patience and withhold judgment when others are talking. And — that’s why we must resist the temptation to voice our thoughts, opinions, and resolutions before the other person has had an opportunity to finish their complete thought.
When we listen to only one side of an issue or hear only part of a thought, we fall into the trap of speculation. Which often leads to judgment and conclusions that are unwarranted and unhelpful. And — when we impatiently interrupt while others are talking, we often inappropriately respond because we haven’t thoughtfully considered or fully understood the other person’s position, idea, or situation.
There is a big difference between simply “hearing” and actually “listening.”
Is it time to fine tune your listening skills?
Practice the following 5 Steps today and become a better listener:
- Talk to yourself:
Regularly remind yourself to “patiently listen” while others are talking.
- Eliminate distractions:
Give others your undivided attention by taking a break from technology and eliminate anything that takes your attention away from a conversation.
- Communicate Care:
Keep eye contact and express appropriate emotions that show you are interested in their situation or point of view.
- Listen & Reflect:
Listen to other’s points of view and acknowledge you’ve heard them. This helps avoid misunderstandings while showing others you care about what they’ve said.
- Ask Questions:
Ask relevant questions and make sure you fully understand the other person’s situation or point of view.
- Memorize and Meditate on James 1:19:
Recall this scripture in the midst of every conversation and “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
Genuine communication happens when we listen thoughtfully, understand fully, and respond appropriately.
What will you do today to enhance your listening skills and improve your communication with others?