By Jim Martin
Do you listen well?
One of the most important tasks for any church leader is listening. Listening can be incredibly difficult. In fact, most of us have had far more training in speaking than in listening.
A few suggestions:
This means eye contact. This means paying attention to body language. This means asking clarifying questions such as, “How did you feel when the change was made?” or “What were you thinking when he said that?”
Listen to understand.
Don’t assume you understand. A church leader should not say, “Oh yeah I know exactly how you feel.” At that point church leaders sometimes take over the conversation and begin talking about their own experience. Far better to say something like: “I really want to understand what you are saying. Could I express to you what I think I heard?” After all, I want that person to leave this conversation feeling as if she has really been heard.
Listen without trying to fix the person’s problem.
A person may come to you and talk to you about several issues in his/her life. Far too often, church leaders will follow by saying, “I know what you need or ought to do.” Yet, often that person hasn’t asked for advice. Rather, the person just wants you to listen.
Of course, don’t check your texts or e-mail while someone is talking with you. Talking with someone who keeps looking at his screen can be very irritating.
Seek to become an excellent listener. You will bless the person you are talking with.