Are You Dialing-In?

Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings – they are bombarding and impacting us all day long. We have to filter out so much of what is coming our way, just to survive. When it’s time to listen to people, however, we need to shift gears. We need to switch our emphasis from screening-out to dialing-in.

Active listening is one of the most important skills you will ever develop. It dials-in your attention toward the person speaking. Good listening is a life-long pursuit, and we need to relentlessly give ourselves to it.

Jesus was the best listener that has walked the planet. You can tell by the way asked and answered questions. His questions often were laser-like, honing in on the heart of the matter.  Yet, sometimes His answers seemed almost unrelated to the questions that were asked of Him.

At first glance, He might have appeared to be missing the point, or not really listening, or disvaluing the question. But, soon it became apparent that His answers moved people to a deeper consideration of themselves and of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus was never too busy to listen. He never “zoned out” in boredom, dishonoring the concerns or feelings of others. He was present … and He was focused. He listened with the sensitive ears of heaven. We need to learn how to listen as He did.

How did Jesus listen?  Let’s use two simple questions to help us develop His listening skills.

To whom are you listening?

It is very important to consider the person as well as the message. The person is the context of the message. Who is that person? What does that person value? It is important for you to “be present” with the person to whom you are listening. Connect with the person; don’t just respond or react to what that person says. We are relational beings, and good listening involves relating well to the one speaking. If you will take the time to understand and value the person sending the message, you are a long way down the road of effective listening.

For what are you listening?

Sometimes we listen for what we want to hear; sometimes we listen for what we don’t want to hear. Good listening, however, hears what the speaker is actually saying. Good listening takes time and requires effort. It is curious and asks good, exploratory questions – not in order to respond or make an argument, but in order to understand the intent of the one speaking. Listen for the point; listen for the heart; listen for feelings; listen for why the person is saying what they are saying.

We all want to be heard and known. Our first job, however, is to learn to be good listeners in order to hear and know others. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) If you give yourself to listening to people and what they are really saying, you will be slow to speak and slow to become angry – Jesus will help you.

~ Coach Tom


P.S. ... If you are stalled in life, or particularly if you are in transition, here are three ways I can help you Get Clear, Get Focused and Be Fruitful! 

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