Being a Good Listener

Hello Parents!

As I was reading through some articles today, I came across one about listening.  Now I don’t know about you, but I like to talk and I like to ask questions.  I sometimes have trouble listening and want an answer immediately from someone.  An author from Download Youth Ministry in SoCal, Justin Knowles, writes a good article about this topic.  I want you to read a section of it below. (he writes directing towards a youth ministry leader, but equally good as a parent/friend/coworker standpoint) 

“Effective listening is one the most important leadership skills one can learn, and it’s the one most leaders desperately need to develop. The problem is most leaders do not have extensive training in the art of listening – seminary didn’t teach me it. There are no conferences, classes, or support groups available that teach the art of listening. Overlooking the importance of effective listening can have costly consequences, including but not limited to, the decline of your influence and effectiveness. We all must get this right! Improving your listening skills may be the one leadership tool that will push your leadership and ministry to growth.

So how do we listen to those around us? What is preventing us from being effective listeners?

Let’s learn from the number one communication source in the world, social media. Social media has forever changed how we communicate. Breaking news is attainable by the touch of a screen and our ability to relate with others face-to-face is being challenged.

According to a poll done by pewinternet.org, 93 percent of young adults (18-29) who own a smart phone admit to using it to prevent boredom, to avoid others, and to get somewhere (GPS) – 85 percent of all young people own a smart phone. The ever growing popularity of social media has taught us that people like to be heard, noticed, and liked – the same holds true for your students. Your students have amazing ideas that they are afraid to share with you. Here are a few tips on how to improve your listening skills and how to get incredible ideas from those in your ministry.

TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS:

  1. Pause for 10 seconds after asking a question: If your student does not respond immediately to your question, give them the silent treatment. ? Ten seconds is a long time, but for many people answers are hard to come by. Their lack of response does not necessarily mean they do not have an answer; it just may mean they need more time to gather their thoughts. Everyone thinks and responds at different speeds, give them the chance to think.
  2. Ask open-ended questions: Yes/no questions only lead to yes or no answers. Open-ended questions allow the other person to take the lead and feel more confident in what they say, leading them to feel more valued and appreciated by you and your ministry. Plus, you get them talking more! Examples of open-ended questions: Tell me what you think about last week’s Harvest Party? (Don’t ask: Did you enjoy the Harvest party?) Open-ended questions open the door to deeper communication by asking questions that encourage your interpretation.
  3. Follow-up their answer with a validation question/statement: So you are suggesting that we do …? People love to be heard and If you want to keep the line of communication open for future conversations, then it is essential that you validate the one you are listening to. Additionally, do not be afraid to give credit where credit is due. If a student comes up with an awesome idea that you use and is a success, give them a shout-out from stage. The long-term benefit of doing this may be that it encourages others to share their ideas with you. WIN!”

I challenge you to use these with your kids.  Start with taking one technique and applying it to your day!  Then as time goes on, start using them all.  

Some of you may have that relationship with your child where you can talk freely with them- awesome!  And some may be at a point where conversations don’t really happen.  Take it in strides.  Don’t give up!  Keep learning more about them.  Love them.  Guide them.  Pray for them and with them.  

But for all of us- let’s listen more. Everyone wants to be seen and heard!

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