I (Megan) must confess, I’ve a lot to learn about listening. I have no problem talking, but listening has been known to cause me problems.There are times when I get distracted or try to multitask while Justin is talking rather than giving him my full attention. Sometimes I formulate my answer while he is still talking rather than listening and then appropriately responding. There are even times when I fill in words and finish sentence for the man because I believe I already know what he is going to say! Like I said, I have a LOT to learn about listening.
In talking with others I’ve found I’m not alone in my need to grow in this area. People are quick to blame stereotypes of men or women for not knowing how to listen but I believe it’s a human problem not just a male or female problem. At the root of a seeming inability to listen is a selfishness problem. When we recognize that others have worth and value, that what they say should be given merit, then and only then can we begin the process of learning to listen.
Here are a few tips I am learning on my way to becoming a better listener.
1. Determine what kind of listening a situation requires.
- Does the person speaking require my input or are they just venting?
- Is this conversation primarily one of obtaining information or is it to gain understanding?
- Is what I am listening to for my own enjoyment or is there need for an appropriate response?
While there is a great deal of overlap in most conversations, it can help to understand what action the person communicating will find most helpful. I believe this article has a lot of great information on how to become a better active listener.
2. Listen with empathy.
Allowing others to feel, process and think differently is part of the human experience. We are all different and acknowledging that in listening skills rather than holding fast to unworkable expectations will do wonders for building relationships. Listening with a desire to understand and learn in place of defending and assuming is key to continued open dialogue.
3. Recognize listening as a gift.
Priscilla Shirer writes: “Listening is one of the most significant ways He (God) blesses us. Therefore, quite predictably, it’s one of the key ways we can bless others. So choose to listen. Resist the urge to criticize, insult, laugh, or make sarcastic remarks. Battle the press of time and urgency and the hunger to get away. Just lean in, quietly, emphatically, purposefully. And Listen. It’s your gift. Your blessing. Give it to whomever you can.”
Undivided attention. The desire to know and be known. True understanding. I want that in my marriage and I bet you do to. Recognizing that those gifts are ours to give just may be encouragement enough to make some changes. I want to be a good gift giver in my marriage and if you do to, let’s make the effort to learn to be better listeners.
Join the conversation:
How have you or are you learning to be a better listener? What else would you add to our list?