In the book of James we are encouraged to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, but often that is not our natural tendency. Typically, we are quick to interject, interrupt and share our own ideas rather than take the opportunity to hear others. Sometimes we are simply too busy and don’t have the time to stop and pay attention to what people are saying. Yet, good listening not only builds strength within a company, it also extends to better customer relations and service.
What about you? Are you a good listener? At the core of a good listener is a caring heart and a respect toward others. Another element to paying attention to others is the discipline of slowing down. At times, we may slow the pace in what we are doing outwardly with our busy schedules, but it is also important to slow down internally as well. Turning the high-speed action in our brains down a few notches is not always as easy as we wish.
How do we harness our thinking into focused attention and good listening? We can begin by tuning in with our eyes. Put down the phone, or the paper or the book, and turn your eyes and body toward the person who is speaking. Concentrate on the main point of what they are trying to say, and push aside distracting thoughts. Often we stop listening because we are trying to think of what we want to say next, but if we listen intently, then usually a related question or applicable comment will surface.
Asking suitable questions shows you are listening and taking in what the speaker is sharing. It takes deliberate attention, but we can train ourselves to be quick to listen. “Chatter less, listen more,” is a good motto in life. One man put it this way, “We were created with two ears and one mouth, and perhaps we should use them in that proportion.” Besides, aren’t your favorite people the ones who listen well to what you have to say?
Wilson Mizner said, “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.” It takes strength and discipline to open your mouth less and your ears more, but think about all there is to learn from the people around you. Perhaps you’ll be surprised at the wisdom they have to offer!
Take a look at my Mom Blog next week for ideas for Conversation Starters.