I’ve had the lesson on active listening several times – in my college psychology class, in counseling, in Stephens Ministry training, in seminary (several times there!). You may know the drill –
1. Give the speaker your complete attention – don’t formulate a response, don’t think about other things. Concentrate on what the other is saying
2. Show that you’re listening by nodding when appropriate, keeping open body language and looking at the speaker
3. Don’t interrupt – let the speaker have his say and hold questions for later
4. When the speaker is finished, reflect back what she has said, “What I hear you saying is...”
5. Ask for clarification on points you don’t understand – those questions you had earlier belong here.
6. Don’t judge the value of what the speaker said at this point.
7. Once you are certain you understand the speaker and have heard what he has said correctly, then, AND ONLY THEN, can you respond with your own comments and thoughts.I think James must have had one of those active listening classes too. “Quick to listen, slow to speak” really sums it up.
Have you ever had someone listen to you – really listen, attentive, non-judgmental, asking questions, making sure that she really understands what you are saying? How did that make you feel? If you’ve not had the experience, imagine it - how would it feel?What would it be like if we practiced quick listening/slow speaking with our family? Our friends? Our co-workers and bosses? What if we practiced quick listening/slow speaking with people we don’t agree with?
Could we show Jesus’ love for others by paying attention – really listening- to them?