Begin with Prayer
“Each of you should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
To bless another means that it will be meaningful to the recipient. Listening helps us know what is meaningful to another. Steve Martin’s character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles famously says to his companion played by John Candy, “When you tell a story, have a point. It makes is so much more enjoyable for the listener.” Similarly, when you seek to bless, “listen,” and then you will know what will be meaningful to the recipient.
But listening goes beyond aiming the arrow of active service. Listening to another is a blessing in and of itself. Brain research shows how listening with acceptance to another as they speak of things that have brought shame upon them, heals the brain. So many people in life go through life not having anybody to talk to. This is not just the lonely outsider, but often the powerful insider often has nobody that they can simply share with regarding the truth of their heart or just their circumstances.
Some people, for the good of their organization or enterprise, have gotten so used to answering “good,” they have been forced to believe it themselves. In their isolation and lack of reflection, they can go months or even years without ever being truly listened to.
God listens, a lot. He invites us to pray and He listens and He responds. The Psalms, the centerpiece of the Bible is a library of God’s listening.
It is hard for us to accept this but we are just as likely to bless a person by listening to them as we are saying something to someone. Here are a few quick tips on listening:
Validation is free, so do it. You don’t have to agree with someone to validate their feelings about something. Feelings are real and they can be validated even if what is driving them is wrong.
Lose control of the conversation. Try to make it your goal to ask the question that gets the other person talking—you are then seeing their passion, their heart or their pain. Either way, very good things are happening in that moment.
Ask permission to offer your counsel or permission
If you find yourself preparing your answer in your head while they are talking, take a different posture that will help you focus on their words, not your own.
Learn to ask good questions.
Today, you can turn someone’s day around by offering five minutes of a listening ear. Don’t be afraid. Go for it.