Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Isn’t it funny how fast we can respond, only to later regret our words? Being a good listener can improve every aspect of our lives. But, listening well doesn’t happen by accident.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, let every person be quick to listen but slow to speak, slow to get angry; for a person’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness!” (Complete Jewish Bible)
Everyone loves a good listener, someone who will hear their side without judging, without giving advice. So what should you do when you really don’t agree with what they are saying—especially when you feel their perspective is unethical or immoral?
A good Christian would comfort them, right? Maybe.
This is the time to really listen. Not to just what the person in front of you is saying, but to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also known as The Comforter (see John 14:26). He knows what the person needs to hear based on the condition of their heart. Should you respond with a firm rebuke, gentle correction or reassurance of God’s love? The wrong response can be devastating and send them running from God. On the other hand, the right words at the right time can steer someone back on course—a path that leads to God’s best for their lives.
Remember, when you don’t know what to say…
First listen. Then Speak. And, say only what the Holy Spirit tells you to say.
“For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what [you] ought to say.” (Amplified Bible. Read in context Luke 12:11-13)
Practical strategies for good listening skills
- Focus on what the other person is saying, instead of what you want to say.
- Don’t anticipate or assume their motives are bad.
- Ask questions based on what you’ve heard.
- Assume the best.
- Preface correction with affirmation.
- End the conversation on a positive note.
- Leave the door open for future discussion.