I was talking with some friends yesterday about areas we have grown in over the last five years. One of the key areas that jumped out at me personally is that I have slowed down and learned to listen to people more intently.
I have found that when we listen, really listen (see post on this topic) we pick up a lot more of the visual cues that people send as they speak. It might be body language, tone changes in their voice or it might be emotions when they talk about something particular. When we really listen we pick up on these a lot easier.
My bad habit was to think about what I wanted to say to the person as we talked. Rather than focussed listening, it was more about saying my piece. Often it would be to share my experience in their situation, offer wonderful counsel/advice, or amaze people with my amazing Bible wisdom. In short it was about me and my pride. It was not about helping them
One of the keys for correcting this bad listening was to read in the Bible about how much God speaks about listening. There are so many verses that talk about being quick to listen and slow to speak, bringing a right word in season, and where there are many words sin is not absent. It even says those who hold their tongue are wise!
Listening really is something we have to practice and get better at. If we start by slowing down and not thinking about what we are going to say in return, we are on the right track. We don’t always have to answer straight away and it is ok to leave silence in a conversation. Sometimes this space gives people time to process their thoughts and really share what they are needing to share.