Is the importance of listening overrated?
When Hubs and I began dating, I often did the typical woman thing and tried to finish his sentences. I finally clued into his closed-off expression and attempted to still my lips. But that habit was a tough one to break.
Turns out, my husband values being able to complete his thoughts without my interruptions. As our relationship grew serious, I became intentional about listening to him without inserting my thoughts or trying to finish his.
I’ve discovered the importance of listening and the benefits it reaps. I’ve developed the habit of listening to people without interrupting. I’m not always successful, but I believe letting someone speak their thoughts without my breaking in shows respect.
The importance of listening
When our sons were younger and wanted to talk with me, I stopped what I was doing and gave them my full attention.
This action yielded the beautiful fruit of them feeling safe to talk with me when the problems went from someone hurting their feelings to the more significant issues teens deal with. Relationship grows when people value the importance of listening.The importance of listening and 7 Ways it Benefits—Relationship grows when people value the importance of listening #tellhisstory #listenwell Click To Tweet
What are the characteristics of a good listener?
I’m not a “listening scientist,” but I’ve discovered skills that help me be an effective listener.
- Focus completely on the other person and what they are saying. Then, take time to consider the information and give a thoughtful response.
- While the other person conveys thoughts, try not to interject your inputs or opinions on what they’re sharing, even if their words are difficult to hear.
- Listen attentively to their complete thought. Because we live in a fast-paced culture, and for many other reasons, we tend to formulate our response while the other person is still speaking. Instead, listen so you don’t miss the message the other person is sharing, and then formulate a thoughtful response.
- Especially if you aren’t sure you grasp what they’re talking about, or if the topic is difficult for some reason, reflect back what they’ve said to ensure you have a clear understanding.
- Be intentional in your response to the other person. Especially if emotions are rising, don’t blurt out words before sifting them through a filter of grace. Is this hard? Sometimes. Will it preserve the relationship? Definitely.
Why is listening so important?
Active listening strengthens relationships. When we listen attentively, the other person feels valued.The importance of listening and 7 Ways it Benefits—Active listening strengthens relationships. When we listen attentively, the other person feels valued #tellhisstory #listenwell Click To Tweet
I found with our sons, especially in their “big-emotions” teen years, if I stopped to listen to their frustration over something and I didn’t try to fix it right off the bat? They often revealed the underlying heart issue that caused their frustration. At times, it had nothing to do with the external events.
Once their emotions calmed, I could ask clarifying questions and offer guidance as they navigated the situation.
By the end of the conversations, they felt heard. And isn’t that what we so often yearn for?
Listening enables us to both grow in our communication skills and gather facts. It also gives us a better understanding of the other person.
Benefits of listening
The importance of listening is that we validate others when we do this well. Some benefits include:
- Trust is built. When the other person knows we’re genuinely listening to them, they grow to trust us. My sons confided in me because they knew I’d listen openly to them, even when what they had to say would be hard to hear.
- Relationships strengthen when we actively listen. We show respect when we listen to the other person.
- Intimacy is deepened. When others know they’re genuinely heard, they begin to feel safe with us. Being fully present and listening to another is an act of love.
- Helps resolve conflicts. When we listen rather than rebut or refute, we gain insight and understanding and maybe even glimpse the other person’s heart. All of this helps resolve conflict more smoothly.
- Offers a broader perspective. When we listen to another’s thoughts on a topic, we may think differently.
- We’ll better understand people and what their needs are. This makes a huge difference, especially in close relationships.
- We reflect God’s love for the speaker. Isn’t this what we most want? Sometimes, drawing someone to the Lord doesn’t take a single word. Quiet listening speaks volumes.
Who wrote the book on the importance of listening? God. Throughout the Bible, we see ways God listens to His people. Psalm 116:1-2 is probably one of my favorite examples.
“I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my pleas. Because He has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
Can you picture it? God inclining His ear to us, leaning down to hear what’s on our hearts? This picture of listening stays with me from His word.
The next time someone wants to talk with you, try giving them the gift of your full attention, still lips, and a mind and heart open to whatever they have to say and discover your own benefits when you place importance on listening.
What about you? How do you gauge the importance of listening in your conversations? What are some things you do to listen well?
P.S. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser has offered to take on the Tell His Story link-up! I’m so grateful this beautiful community will have a place to meet! I’ll share details s they’re ironed out over the next couple of weeks.Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet
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