Los Angeles Christian Counseling
You can improve your relationships in a dramatic way when you choose to be a better listener. But how do you do this? Today we’ll show you why listening is so important and give you five ways to be a better listener.
Why Is Listening So Important?
Listening helps people feel loved. There is a huge deficit in listening skills within our fast-moving culture. If you commit to being a better listener, you will demonstrate God’s love to people in a simple yet powerful way.Ironically, many of us find it harder to listen to the people closest to us. Our sinful human nature sometimes leads us to take advantage of those we love most. But we can overcome this selfish inclination by learning ways to listen to our loved ones. They will instantly feel like they are loved and respected when we take the time to listen to them.
When you want to listen to someone better, you need to do more than just pay closer attention. You need to practice specific skills to get the most out of the conversation. With intention, you can gain more from your interactions with others and see a boost in your relationships.
5 Ways to Be a Better Listener
Becoming a better listener isn’t difficult, but it does require a focused approach. These are five ways to boost your listening skills.
1. Slow Down
You must slow down to listen well. Breathe deeply to slow your internal systems. Choose to be mindful and stay in the moment. Look the other person in the eyes while they are speaking. These actions can be cues to help you pause and be a better listener.
2. Avoid Interrupting
Interrupting shows that you aren’t listening. It’s a conversation killer. Practice gently biting your tongue while the other person is talking. Think through what you want to say in response before you say it. Treat the other person as you would like to be treated, which is to let them have the floor before speaking yourself.
3. Take Mental NotesToo many people pretend they are listening when they are just preparing to share their next story. But a good listener is giving the speaker his or her full attention while the speaker is talking. It’s like listening to a lecture and taking notes, getting all the important points on the page. This is a key step in learning to listen better. You’ll have your turn to talk, but while the other person is talking, put yourself in note-taking mode.
4. Ask Good Questions
The best questions will elicit more information from the speaker. “Tell me more” is one of the most encouraging things you can say. Referring to details of the speaker’s conversation shows that you have been listening. You can ask for more information or clarification of details so that you gain a full understanding of the speaker’s intentions.
5. Empathize and Affirm
To be the most loving listener you can be, look for ways you can empathize with the speaker. Even if you don’t agree, you can say things like “That must be hard” to empathize. Affirmation is another way to show love to the speaker. Pick out parts of the conversation where you can say, “That was a good choice” or “You did a great job on that.” Everyone loves to hear words of affirmation, and they also show that you were paying close attention to their conversation.
By employing these tips every day in your relationships, you’ll improve your listening skills. Here’s another tip you can use to become a better listener.
The Tool of Active Listening
Active listening is an effective way to clear communication channels that may have been blocked in the past. It’s a way to gain a deep understanding of the other person’s perspective. You can use active listening to increase the peace in your relationships. As an active listener, you’ll offer a lot of affirmation and ask clarifying questions.
Here’s an example of how active listening would work between a mother and a teenaged daughter.
Teen: “I am tired of doing chores all day on Saturday. I wish I could spend more time hanging out with my friends.”
Mom: “Sounds like you are frustrated that you have chores on Saturdays. Is that correct?”
Teen: “I’m not opposed to doing chores, just not all day on Saturdays. I’d like to have more flexibility.”
Mom: “So you’d like to have more flexibility with your chores. Can you tell me more about this?”
Teen: “Maybe we could spread chores out on weeknights so I can hang out with my friends on the weekends.”
Mom: “You are willing to do chores on weeknights instead of Saturdays. Did I get that right?”
Teen: “Yes, that’s right. I think I can still get it all done if I do one chore per day.”
Mom: “What I hear you saying is that you want to do one chore per day during the week and that you believe you can still get everything done during the week. Did I miss anything?”
Teen: “No, you didn’t miss anything. I’ll start today with the laundry, okay?”
In this example, the mom resisted responding in defensive and corrective ways. Instead, she focused on listening to her daughter’s perspective. She affirmed her daughter’s feelings while keeping her own anxiety or frustration to herself. Both mother and daughter arrived at a solution faster since conflict was kept out of the conversation.
From this example, you can see the benefits of active listening. By affirming the other person’s feelings, keeping judgment out of the conversation, resisting defensiveness, and asking for clarification, you can improve your listening skills and communicate more effectively.
How Listening Skills Improve Your Relationships
Listening skills are especially helpful in conflict resolution. But they are also helpful in everyday conversations, since better listening helps people feel honored, loved, and respected. Here are several examples of how listening skills improve your relationships.
At home, listening skills pay off in both married relationships and relationships between parents and children. You can learn much more about your children’s feelings and thoughts with active listening. The same is true with your spouse. The five steps above, plus active listening, will bless your family members and help them feel loved.
Listening skills will also improve relationships in your extended family. They can increase healthy conversation between generations. To show greater respect to your in-laws, siblings, or parents, try out your listening skills with them. You’ll notice how a lack of defensiveness on your part will open new conversations and strengthen relationships.
At work, when you work on your listening skills, you can better understand what your boss needs from you. Listening skills can also help you handle different situations with coworkers and clients. Your commitment to become a better listener will enhance your work experience.
Any situation in which you need greater understanding is a situation that will benefit from improved listening skills. These skills will help you show the love of God to everyone around you, no matter how close you are to them.
More Help for Becoming a Better Listener
Listening skills take time to develop. They require practice to get better. Like muscles, they get stronger with frequent use. But it’s easy to fall back into defensiveness and judgment on your own. A caring Christian counselor in Los Angeles can help you get on the fast track to becoming a better listener.
The counselors at Los Angeles Christian Counseling can help you develop better listening skills. We all can make improvements to our communication, and your counselor will help you see areas where you can grow. In counseling sessions, your counselor will role play with you to help you recognize opportunities for change. To learn how to be a better listener, give us a call at Los Angeles Christian Counseling today.
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