"To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame," we read in Proverbs 18:13.
Do you have trouble listening to others? Do you often find that your mind wanders during conversations and that you then have to answer someone without being sure of what they even said? Having bad listening habits can cause your friends and family to feel as if they aren't important enough for your attention. It can hurt your important relationships and cause those you care about the most to drift away from you.
"To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame," we read in Proverbs 18:13. If you have been lacking in listening skills, then use this Biblical quote for inspiration and encouragement as you work on improving yourself for your loved ones. Just practice these five simple tips and you will become a better listener in no time:
1) Make eye contact
Making and holding eye contact can seem like a daunting and awkward challenge. Thankfully, there is no need to hold constant eye contact during a conversation. Simply glancing into the other person's eyes once in a while makes it a lot easier to keep track of what they are saying, and it can go a long way towards making them feel heard.
2) Do not make assumptions
When you are listening to someone, do not make assumptions or judgments about what they are saying until they have finished speaking. Doing so can lead you to believe that you know what the other person means before they have said it themselves, causing you to completely misunderstand what they are really trying to convey.
3) Get clarification
If you've lost track of what someone is saying during a conversation, then it is time to get some clarification. Do not be afraid to ask the other person to explain themselves and to provide further details, as this makes it seem like you are engaged even if you do not understand. Once in a while you can restate what the other person has said in order to make sure that you are following along.
4) Ask questions
Asking questions is similar to asking for clarification, but it is a little different in that it prompts the other person to keep talking, to elaborate on what they are talking about, and to share more new information with you. Asking questions shows that you listened and that you care to hear more.
5) Give feedback
An important part of good listening involves, to some extent, the ability to do some talking yourself. Giving feedback and offering some personal input on what the other person said to you shows that you listened well. Making it a goal to give feedback after the other person has finished will make it easier for you to listen while they are talking.
Some of the above pointers may not come very naturally to you right away, and that is perfectly alright. When you first begin practicing your listening skills you might feel like you are constantly consulting a mental checklist, but, with enough time and practice, you will find yourself starting to listen to others more easily and naturally.
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong.We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts,turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill.Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear;open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”