Ten Commandments for Listening

Have you been heard? Did you hear? What was said? What was said “between the lines?”

Psalm 135:15-18 speaks of the idols of the people. It says, “they have mouths, but they speak not…eyes but they do not see…ears but they do not hear…those who make them are like them…”

Have you ever had your child, or maybe a grandchild climb up into your lap, take your face in their little hands, look straight into your eyes, then ask the same question that you’ve been ignoring? One of the best gifts we can give those that we care about is simply listening. You might think that some are better at listening than others, but it is probably like a lot of other skills…the more you practice, the better you do it. We can all be better listeners. Here is a list of listening skills.

Ten Commandments for Listening

1. Stop Talking

(You cannot listen and talk at the same time.)

2. Put the Speaker at Ease

(Help the speaker feel that he/she is free to say anything they need to say. This is often called “creating a supportive environment.”)

3. Show that you Want to Hear

(Look and act interested. Don’t glance at the television, cell phone, watch, or another person. Look into the person’s eyes.)

4. Remove Distractions

(Would it be quieter with the door closed or the television turned off?)

5. Sit at Eye Level.

(If the person is seated or in bed, this might mean moving furniture or sitting on the arm of a couch. Whatever it takes, with very few exceptions, do not stand over the speaker.)

6. Empathize with the Person

(Try to put yourself in his/her world, without saying, “I know just how you feel.” Listen to understand rather than to cheer up or correct. Don’t trivialize.)

7. Be Patient

(Don’t rush, allow plenty of time. Don’t interrupt. Allow the speaker to find his/her own words.)

8. Ask Open-ended Questions

(Don’t assume the person does or does not want to talk about the illness or even death, or children, grandchildren, or spouse.)

9. Listen for the Message

(Try to understand the emotion behind the speaker’s words more than the literal meaning of the words.)

10. Reflect the Feelings and Message

(This will let the speaker know you understand and care.)

11. Listen Attentively

(Do not formulate your answer as the person is speaking. Sometimes one does not even need an answer, they just need to be heard.)

12. Be Aware

(Note your own mental, physical and psychological state. What is going on within you? What are you reacting to?)

13. Relax

(Be yourself. You are there to be there. You really do not have to do anything.)

14. Stop Talking

(This is the first and last commandment, because all other commandments depend on it.)

Yes, I realize there are 14 instead of 10.

Could it be that today, you are the person someone needs to talk to? There is a reason God created two people when He started this whole human race…one to talk…one to listen.

My prayer today is…

Lord, thank you for hearing me.Lord, let me hear what You have to say to me. Lord, let me hear what my fellow team members need for me to hear. I want to be there for them when they need me the most. Thank you for being here for me. Thank you that my fellow team members are here for me. Amen.