How often do we really listen to others? How often do we listen in order to understand rather than remember? How often do we listen just so we can reply? How often do we say that we’re going to spend more time listening to the people in our life who matter? We need to start listening carefully to others. But how? If we want to be great at listening, there are three things we can start doing: 1) Look directly at the speaker. When someone’s talking to us we need to give them our full attention. We shouldn’t be checking our phones, catching up on work, or watching TV while they’re speaking. 2) Don’t interrupt. When we interrupt, people think we don’t place much value on what they’re saying. Or that we’re trying to impress them with how much we know. Or we’re too excited by what we have to add to the conversation to let them finish. Let’s avoid trying to form our response to what they’re saying, while they’re still saying it. 3) Suspend your judgement. We need to wait to hear the whole story before we respond. If we don’t, we might miss the most important things the speaker has to say. In James it says: ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’ (1:19 NIV). Let’s follow that advice in our own lives. And let’s not forget that we should start listening carefully to God too. We won’t know how close we are to a breakthrough or a blessing until we learn to listen. So whoever you’re listening to, listen carefully.
Next time someone’s talking to you, try and really listen to what they’re saying. Put all distractions (like your phone) away, and wait until they’ve finished speaking before you try and say anything.