5 Ways to be a Better Listener

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Listen up! As a person who works in ministry, you are probably talking all day: engaging in conversations, solving problems, giving advice. Your work also puts you in the important position of listening to people, whether it’s a child or an elderly person. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we take the time to listen. Often, a problem that seems really big to one person may vanish when that person has the opportunity to say it out loud.

At the end of the work day, you may wish for silence. But in the meantime, here are some tips to be the best listener you can be:

  1. Make eye contact. If your eyes are darting all around the room, the person talking will know that you aren’t really engaged in what he or she saying. Plus, looking someone in the eye shows that you think they are important and worth the effort.
  2. Put your phone down. Many people consciously (or subconsciously) are engaged with their phone when they are supposed to be participating in real human interactions. Technology can be a great distraction. This also goes for computer keyboards and even notepads. Don’t be typing or writing when you should be listening.
  3. Use head nods to show agreement. A head nod once in awhile during a conversation lets the person speaking know that you are listening. You may not agree to everything that is being said, but nodding your head shows that you are an active participant in the conversation.
  4. Don’t interrupt. If you are talking, that means you aren’t listening. Instead, you are thinking about what you are going to say. This means you are missing part of the conversation. Being silent while another is talking is respectful and necessary in everyday dialogue.
  5. Repeat what is being said. When there is a break in the conversation, sometimes it’s helpful to repeat what was said to let the person know you were listening. After hearing your interpretation, this also gives the person an opportunity to clarify points he or she was making.