Listening and asking questions are terrific ways to show love in everyday life! Listening is such a gift, but it is often hard to give others. It goes against our self-contentedness and desire to get things done. Listening requires intentionality and practice; it takes a little effort to mentally and relationally connect with another person! For more ideas on asking questions, take a peek at last week’s post .
Here are five ideas that will help you grow the skill of listening:
- Focus on the other person. It’s so natural for us to talk rather than listen. We probably hate to admit it, but we really want the other person to be interested in us. Set yourself aside temporarily so you can love the other person.
- Seek to understand their perspective. We each see and experience life differently, yet we often assume others see and experience life the same way we do. Determining to listen so we can understand other people is an important social skill that allows us to love others.
- Resist the urge to interrupt or switch the conversation back to you. This is something we do often, though we’re likely not aware of it.
- When the other person stops talking, ask a question or summarize what they said. This shows we understand and that we’re willing to continue listening. For example, a friend shares about a challenging situation with a family member. I could ask a question like, “What are some ways you can respond?” Or I may show I understand by saying, “That was challenging! You’re trying to be loving.” Then I pause, and give her a chance to continue talking.
- Follow-up with a kind act to what they said. We learn about the other person and their life while listening. This is a terrific opportunity to put our love into action! In response, we can imagine what they need and follow-up in some way. This might be a text, prayer, gift, childcare, meal, or some other help. We can be creative, and keep it simple and doable. For example, while I was running errands, I received a text from a mom at my MOPS table who hadn’t been feeling well, so I brought a Papa Murphy’s pizza with some store-bought cookies and carrot sticks. I did not need to make a gourmet homemade meal in order to show love!
Asking questions and listening are powerful skills that open up all sorts of possibility for living a vibrant life of love! We begin with showing interest by asking questions. Then we listen. This opens up opportunities for us to respond with empathy and follow-up action!
“… let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak …” ~James 1:19
Pay attention to your conversations: How much do you talk? How much do you listen? What suggestion above will you try this week?
Kathryn Featherstone is a certified Christian Life Coach by the Board of Christian Life Coaches. She is trained by Gallup for coaching with CliftonStrengths assessment and resources. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.