Leaders Listen Well


The gift of listening takes much more practice than the art of speaking.

Have you ever been with a group where each person is anticipating their turn to talk? Everyone is polite enough, waiting until the one speaking is finished before jumping in… but each person has a point and they’re focused on fitting their comment into the stream of conversation.

Everybody wants to talk. Few are listening.

Jesus listened to Nicodemus, then He answered. Jesus heard the thief hanging next to Him. Then He responded. He wondered when He felt power go out of him, then listened as the woman told Him her story.  He listened to the hurting, the children who gathered around him, and his disciples. The greatest of all, Jesus regularly invested time to listen to His Father. He knew the importance of listening well.

Do You listen Well?

There are a lot of conversations going on – people are talking.  Talk. Talk. Talk.

As leaders, are we really listening? Do we hear what others are really saying? Or are we just waiting for our turn to speak?

If we are leading like Jesus, does our relationship with others include the ability to listen well?

Think of your closest friends. (One might even be your spouse.)

When our friends speak, are our hearts tuned to hear what they are saying? Do we seek to understand what they’re feeling, how they see the world, and what lies heavy on their hearts?

And when we are truly listening, do we altar our ego? Do we behave the way Jesus did/does and know the answers to the two questions every leader needs to know?

Sometimes the gift of listening takes much more practice than the art of speaking.

8 Steps to Grow Your Ability to Listen Well

  1. Love God with all your heart.When God is center, your perspective will be clear.
  2. And love your neighbor as yourself. With love for your neighbor forefront, prejudice is controlled.
  3. Prepare your heart to listen. Be deliberate in choosing to listen. Be ready. Be open. Practice solitude.Listen first to hear from God.
  4. Ignore distractions. Stop looking around or past the person in front of you. Challenge yourself to focus completely on the person speaking.
  5. Hear tone. Watch body language. (Yours included.) A significant portion of conversation is nonverbal. Listening is not only in hearing the words. Your body language will help or hinder.
  6. Don’t talk. Wait. And wait some more. Because sometimes it takes a while for the whole story to be known. Become comfortable with a pause… even if it’s a really long pause.
  7. If you must, ask open questions. But make them good questions. Use "who," "what," "where," "when," "how," or "why" questions. They’re more likely to prompt thoughtful answers.
  8. Paraphrase what you believe you’ve heard till the speaker affirms you’ve understood them.

When Leaders Listen

When leaders are able to listen deeply – hearing the whole story – connection happens.

And when leaders listen well…

  • they’re able to be empathetic because they know the whole story.
  • they engender respect because they don’t interrupt.
  • they can encourage and inspire because they’ve built trust.

Listening Opens Hearts.

Invest time every day listening for God’s Word – just as Jesus did. Then listen to others. The next time you’re in a group of people, be the person who listens well.

By Robert and Lori Ferguson

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