Have you ever noticed there isn’t a class offered on Listening Skills? I am not suggesting listening is not taught to us throughout our lives, but there doesn’t seem to be a class to teach us how to listen...something that I believe every human being needs to know how to do.
During some of the talks I do regarding ministry, I often speak about listening. Listening is a vital part of ministry, parenting, teaching, and probably almost every job a person can hold these days. In my mind, there are three important steps to listening.
Today we will start with Step 1: Stop talking!
Sounds simple enough - just be quiet. But for some it can be so hard. We often feel that we need to fill the space with noise.
How comfortable are you with silence?
How comfortable are you in silence with other people?
Some people are very comfortable just sitting and being with others. Then there are others who have to work really hard to keep our mouths shut around other people.
Silence is one of the most helpful tools when listening and ministering to other people. Many times, in our darkest moments, we just want someone to be with us. Not filling up the space with words, but just allowing us to feel the pain we are experiencing.
I can’t tell you how often in my work I hear, “but I don’t know what to say”, as if saying something will fix or help the situation. We need to come to understand that our desire to speak during these moments has more to do with our own needs than the needs of the person we are working to listen to.
So, when you feel the pressure to fill the space with words, consider filling it with silence instead. Take a breath. Allow the other person a moment to be in silence and gather their thoughts. Usually something powerful happens after silence.
Check out next Tuesday’s Blog for Step 2: Presence.