Letting Christ Transform You From The Inside Out

The Practices of a Good Listener

  1. He listens to understand what is meant, not to ready himself to reply, contradict, or refute. This is extremely important as a general attitude.

  2. He knows that what is meant involves more than the dictionary meaning of the words that are used. It involves, among other things, the tone of the voice, the facial expressions, and the overall behavior of the speaker.

  3. As he observes all this, he is careful not to interpret too quickly. He looks for clues to what the other person is trying to say, putting himself (best as he can) in the speaker's shoes, seeing the world as the speaker sees it, accepting the speaker's feelings as facts that have to be taken into account - whether he, the listener, shares them or not.

  4. He puts aside his own views and opinions for the time being. He realizes that he cannot listen to himself inwardly and at the same time listen outwardly to the speaker. He is careful not to "jam" his receiving set.

  5. He controls his impatience because he knows that listening is faster than talking. The average person speaks about 125 words a minute, but can listen to about 400 words a minute. The effective listener does not jump ahead of the speaker; he gives him time to tell his story. What the speaker will say next may not be what the listener expects him to say.

  6. He does not prepare his answer while he listens. He wants to get the whole message before deciding what to say in his turn. That last sentence of the speaker may give a new slant to what he said before.

  7. He shows interest and alertness. THis stimulates the speaker and improves his performance.

  8. He does not interrupt. When he asks a question it is to secure more information, not to trap the speaker or force him into a corner.

  9. He expects the speaker's language to differ from the way he would say the "same thing" himself. He does not quibble with words but tries to get at what is meant.

  10. His purpose is the opposite of a debater. He looks for areas of agreement, not for weak spots that he plans to attack and blast with artillery of counter-arguments.

  11. In a conference, he listens to all participants, not only to those who are on his side.

  12. In a particularly difficult discussion, he may, before giving his answer, sum up what he understands was meant by an opponent. (This is called "active listening"). If his interpretation is not accepted, he clears up the contested points before attempting to proceed with his own views.