listening

As a wife, mother of six and pastor I have realised over and over again the importance of communication. It’s the glue that God uses to keep our family and life functioning, healthy, happy and together.

To communicate by definition is the process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviour.

But good communication, rather than just noise (in a family, workplace or wherever there is people) takes time, practice and a willingness to put the effort and care into understanding and being understood.

Ultimately I believe good communication is the desire to know someone – to know their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, opinions, and heart. Without that desire to know a person our communication will be limited and we will lack real clarity, understanding and the ability to respond effectively.

One of the most important ways to be a good communicator is to be a good listener. No one likes communicating with someone who only cares about putting their opinions forward but does not take the time to listen to others. Whereas a good listener will actively listen paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding.

It’s when we actively listen that we better understand and can respond appropriately, and it’s as we listen that relationship are built and strengthened and heart to heart connections are made.

One of the things I have learnt most about being a listener is that it helps if we make ourselves available to really be there to listen and understand. Unfortunately “many people don’t listen with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply.” (S. Covey)

It isn’t always always easy to be a good listener. It can be inconvenient, mean a lot of late night conversations; may mean you miss a lunch or tea break, cause us to have to choose to set other things aside to focus on what and who is important rather than urgent; mean turning off technology, going out of our way to care, and being there even when we may be tired, had a hard day or have pressures and concerns of our own.

I encourage you to take some time today to think about whether you need to practice your communication skills, and especially the skill of being a good listener. Do you listen well or are you merely waiting to say your piece.

Do you care enough about others to make yourself available to listen and understand or are you too caught up in your own thoughts, pressures and world?

Choose to practice listening today; both to God’s voice and His Word directing you throughout your day, and to all those He brings across your path, because one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Plus when we talk we are only repeating what we already know, whereas when we listen we may actually learn something new.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:12)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Prayer: Lord help me to have ears to hear and a heart to understand both you and those around me more today. I want to be able to communicate better and to be a great listener. In Jesus name Amen