Oct 26, 2020

Listen Up

Being a good listener is a critical part of being a great leader.  People can tell when you are not really listening.  Your body language or that distant look in your eyes shows people you are not really listening to them.  They pick up on the vibe that you are simply waiting for them to stop talking, so you can talk.

Here are some tips that I am working on that can help you and I become better listeners:

Stop what you are doing.

Set aside your cellphone.  Our cellphones are constantly diverting our attention - who is calling or texting me and what do they want?

Clear your mind and focus on what the other person is saying.

Ask questions.  One of the best ways to listen to learn is by asking questions.

Concentrate on what they are saying instead of internally planning what you are going to say in return.

Practice empathy.  See the world through the other person's eyes and emotions.  Seek to understand their perspective.  

Show you are actively listening by nodding and leaning in to the conversation.  This will show the other person that you are engaged in the conversation.

Repeat what you heard and ask follow up questions.  This will show the other person you are tracking with them.

Don't interrupt.  Listen until they are done. 

Don't bring an agenda to the conversation.  When you do this, your goal shifts to maneuvering and manipulating the conversation. 

Strive for a 2:1 ratio of listening to talking.  Keep track of how much you talk vs. how much you listen.  We've all heard the statement that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. 

As a children's ministry leader, you have lots of people that you listen to.  Parents.  Kids.  Volunteers.  Other staff members.  Grandparents.  Students.  Just to name a few.  Give them a listening ear.  With their insight, you can personally grow and you can make the ministry better.

Have any questions, ideas or insight about being a better listener?  We're all ears. You can leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

2 comments:

Doesn't sound like you are really listening if your attention wanders so quickly. You're not really focusing on the other person. Did you have ADHD when you were a kid? ADHD is not something that you outgrow as an adult? Active listening, or reflective listen, is a skill that you can learn. It requires concentrating on what the other person is saying and repeating back to them in your own words what they said. In this way they can correct you if you did not hear them correctly. Otherwise you may hearing what you believe that they are saying--making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, etc., and not what they are saying. One of the most powerful ways of saying "I'm here for you" is to give a person your full attention. I learned that as a social worker.

Thanks for sharing Robin. I have gotten better at this - doing some of the things you mentioned. Thanks for your insight. Very helpful.

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