Developing Healthy Relationships by Listening

By Dr. Wayde Goodall
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picture of feet walking down a long hallway
When we listen, we desire to hear the other person's opinion, to sense the person's heart, and to understand him or her. God listens to us, and we can develop our ability to hear those around us.

When pastoring, I would often tell myself to walk slowly when leaving the worship service. Just a quick “hello” to someone, addressing another by name, or asking brief questions about a parishioner’s week can often hold deep meaning to a person. Over and over again I have heard a word, detected a voice tone, seen an expression on someone’s face, or a tear in an eye that has given me insight into someone’s heart. Taking the few seconds to “hear” your people can be a wonderful gift and a clue for pastors when meeting the needs of their congregation members.

People often communicate without words. Our family members give us signals all the time. The church board, the staff, parishioners, other pastors, even the people who serve us at the grocery store are communicating continually. Are we listening? 

Leadership coach and author, Glen Liopis, reminds us, “Listening is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description. Those who do listen to their employees are in a much better position to lead the increasingly diverse and multigenerational workforce. The “one-approach-fits-all” way of thinking has become outdated and those who embrace the high art of listening are destined to be the better, more compassionate leaders.Liopis, Glen, Forbes 6 Ways Effective Listening Can Make You a Better Leader 5/20/13.(www.Forbes.com)

  • 85% of what we know we’ve learned through listening.
  • Humans generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate.
  • In a typical business day, we spend 45% of our time listening, 30% talking, 16% reading, and 9% writing.
  • Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or training to understand and improve listening skills and techniques Ibid

Listening includes using intuition, reading body language, and hearing voice tones all while paying attention to the words someone is speaking. All of us have a “third ear” that hears communication by focusing on more than just words. If we’re careful to pay attention, we’ll understand with greater accuracy what others are really saying, or are trying to say.

The person you’re talking to mostly wants to talk about what is on his or her mind

Many, perhaps most, people are lonely.  Few people have others who really listen to them and hear what they want to say. Pastors and church leaders are often lonely. They desire to talk about their lives, their tastes, and their views. To the extent that you let them do that, you facilitate conversation.

He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

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