(This is part three of a five-part series. Click here to read Part I, Part II and Part III.)
I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.
Please just shut up and listen.
“The secret to friendship is being a good listener.” – Unkown
I read once that if you want to persuade someone you’re a good friend, then be quiet and listen.
Unfortunately, however, listening is not a strength for most of us.
Too often we’re more focused on getting to say what’s on our mind than paying attention to the other person talking. Often times, what a person doesn’t say communicates a lot more than what they do say.
But when we’re not fully invested in the person in front of us, we may end up missing those subtle details or hidden information. Listening involves taking the focus off of yourself and giving your full attention to the person speaking.
Christian philosopher, Greg Koukl, once taught that if you want people to think you’re interesting – ask questions!
Asking relevant questions actually helps you as much as it helps the person talking because it keeps you engaged in the conversation, and it communicates interest in the speaker.
Then, depending on the conversation or person, there may be an opportunity to give advice or feedback — but don’t be surprised if some people are just happy to have someone listen to them.
To give you an example, last year Michael and I spent the weekend together with some friends in Arkansas at a healing conference. In the evening we went out to a Wal-Mart to heal people in Jesus’ name.
We were able to minister to several people, but just before leaving, Michael and I saw a lady in a motorized cart. Since we were in “healing mode” we weren’t anticipating that maybe this woman just needed someone to listen when we initially approached her.
It turned out, she did have an illness and some pain, but she had recently moved to Arkansas with no family or friends, and the family she did have wouldn’t speak to her. So in this case taking the time to let this woman vent and cry meant more to her than not having to use her motorized cart.
Listening was the most loving thing we could have done.
Which leads me to another point: being a good listener means being flexible.
Listening is a full-time job, and you have to be ready in and out of season. I’m not saying let people “dump” on you all the time and use you to justify their unhealthy behaviors.
I’m saying be giving in your time and flexible in your actions.
Give people the time of day and not just canned responses. Can you give 100% of your time to every single person on the planet, obviously the answer is no. But with healthy boundaries, you can at least give some of your listening time to those you encounter day-to-day.
By giving your full attention, asking the right questions, and being sensitive to where that person is at you’ll become an effective listener, and through love, bring comfort to someone’s day.