Long story short: I’m learning how to listen.

I’m learning how to listen to the Lord, to receive and accept constructive criticism from others, and to give my full attention when I’m in a conversation with ANYONE.  I wanted to take some time and focus on that last portion of listening.

My small group addressed this question last Wednesday: “Who do you know that’s a good listener?”

I know lots of good listeners, but one face stuck in my mind.

“What makes them a good listener?”

After a long evening of conversation we came to the conclusion that a good listener:
-asks intentional questions
-leaves space for an answer
-responds with interest

A good listener leaves you feeling valued as a person and friend.

My friend Megan is such a good listener that I have to FORCE questions her way… otherwise we might end a conversation with me knowing nothing new about her life!  She’s spends entire phone calls asking ME questions.

I described Megan to my group and they wanted to know WHY I thought she had become such an intentional listener.  I guessed that a portion of it was personality, a portion was learned respectful behavior from loving parents, and a portion was more than likely the presence of other quality listeners in her life.  I know of one woman in particular, Carrie, whose presence in Megan’s life has been very influential.  Carrie asks great questions!

I’m about to call Megan on the phone right now and wanted to let you in on my plan to listen to her.  Carrie has an exercise that both Megan and I are familiar with – one that she uses with new groups of women every summer… The 5 H’s.  If you are looking for some intentional questions that will inspire great conversation then write these down or save them in your memory bank!

Ask someone:

-Who are your Heroes? (Who do you admire?  Who has shaped you into the person you are today?)

-What is your Heritage?  (Tell me about your family, life growing up, your heritage of faith.)

-What are your Highlights?  (What are the high points in your life story? – the things that thrilled you, still put a smile on your face)

-What are your Heartaches? (What has hurt your heart in this life?)

-What are your Hopes? (What are your hopes, dreams, goals, or vision for the future?)

I’ve seen these questions used in everything from a phone conversation to a women’s Bible study with 10 in the group.  Take your time.  Space them out.  More than anything else – listen.  Don’t be thinking of your OWN answers while supposedly listening.  Honor and love the people in your life by listening to their hearts.

“When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4, NCV

Do you have any tips for listening?  What questions have you found that help stir up great conversation with others?