In a divisive and polarized world, good listening skills are important. We often listen with part of our brains, while the rest is readying a response or rebuttal. Listening for understanding is rare to find, and a treasure when it is. Have you had someone, recently, who simply listened to you with their only goal being to understand you? How would you feel about that person? Listening well is a skill you can learn. It will benefit you and be a gift to others.
If you want to become a good listener, there are certain traits and skills you will need to learn. Listening is an exceptional skill to develop and it can improve all areas of your life. People love to talk and are always looking for someone to listen to them.
A good listener will also think before responding. Again, they often ask what if this person is correct in their way of thinking. People have the undesirable trait of speaking before thinking and this can lead to all kinds of awkward situations.
It is perfectly normal for your brain to want to respond quickly, stop yourself and think before you speak!
Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on a person. It is normal to want to look away. If you do this, try nodding to the person or making direct eye contact with them. This signals to them you are paying attention. If you really need to look away for a second, then muffle a cough behind your hand!
Other tips that you might want to use to show that you are paying attention include:
If you make an effort to put these five traits into play consistently, you will become a much better listener - and person - for it.
Find someone who has a different point of view or position on a topic than you and listen to their point of view. Ask questions to understand their position better, not to rebut or to challenge. Look for where the love and compassion are in their position. We don't like to think so, but almost always people form opinions beginning from a place of love and compassion, or general well-being for others. That's why it's so difficult to tolerate other opinions because it's rare that one takes the time to listen for that in the positions and opinions of others.
After listening deeply and compassionately to others, we may not agree with them, but we may come away with an understanding and respect for them and we can put away malice.
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Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here.
I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life.
I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
Here's what I can do for and with you.