One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider our problems, can change our whole outlook on the world.
-Dr. Elton Mayo
How many of you reading this blog today can think of at least one person who takes the time to actively listen to you? How many of you would say that you are an active listener?
Two ears one mouth, listen more, talk less, a simple solution to helping others solve their own problems. I know this sounds easier said then done. It takes intentional listening to become an active listener. It takes learning to be still in the moment and know that it is OK not to have all the answers and OK if you do not to give them.
If you struggle with the active listening part of a conversation, you might benefit from this challenge. This challenge will help you grow into a confident communicator, who is able to connect in community through the process of listening well, asking good questions and pausing on purpose.
One-day challenge, you will need a notebook or form of data entry. I challenge you to write down all the times you were the one talking and all the times you were the one listening. At the end of the day look at your data, evaluate how well of a listener you were as well as a communicator. This is intentional communication and it starts way before the conversation.
After doing this exercise several days in a row my data showed me the ugly truth behind my lack of listening. First, I listened less and spoke more when it came to parenting my teens, often cutting them off midsentence believing that I already knew what they were going to say.
The message I sent them was one of arrogance and hypocrisy. I had to adjust my habit to fix, lead with my ears and shut my mouth. My teens needed to learn to find the answers within, a God given gift that they both posses, instead of me handing out advice like it were going out of style, I needed to hold back and be silent.
Secondly, I noticed while going over my data that in my marriage I was quick to cut off and even quicker to interject my thoughts and opinions when all my husband needed was a safe place to share. His eyes would light up as I learned to listen more and talk less. He started becoming more confident in his own decision-making skills and less reliant on mine.
Whether you are a spouse, parent, business owner, friend, if you are in relationships, the greatest and most important gift you can give to one another is the gift of listening well. Believing in others so they can believe in themselves is the first step that helps motivate people to become active listeners.
Good luck to all who choose to take the challenge. I would love to hear from you after you formulate your data, share your details and allow me to keep you in prayer as you learn to become a more active listener.
He who answers before listening, that is his folly and his shame