Monday Mantras Relationships Spiritual Disciplines

I Am Quick to Listen

Be Slow to Speak, Slow to Anger, Quick to Listen

This week, I want to challenge us all to practice our listening skills

I’ve been told I’m a pretty good listener…but man, do I feel like I have a lot of room to grow in this area. 

Actually, I think listening is something we could all stand to practice more. 

Particularly in this day and age when social media provides a platform for anyone and everyone to share his or her opinion. 

I’ve seen many who are “quick to speak” and plenty who are “quick to anger.”  But it’s rare to find a person who is “quick to listen.” 

Hmmm, well I don’t know about you, but I desire for more people to feel seen, heard, and valued.  So, I’m all about doing my part to become someone who is quick to listen. 

Are you with me?

Emotional & Spiritual Maturity Go Hand-in-Hand

This year, our church (Reality SF) has been studying what it means to live in Authentic Community.  Part of loving well and living in harmony with one another includes emotional and spiritual maturity. 

Emotional and spiritual maturity go hand-in-hand.  You cannot be spiritually mature while also being emotionally immature.  

Which is why Reality SF has been talking about all the feels in their latest series.The goal is to help us become more emotionally intelligent so we can ultimately grow in our faith and love well. 

soooooo geek out on this subject because emotional health and awareness is SO important. 

Whether we are aware of them or not, our thoughts and emotions affect our decisions and actions.  If we remain unaware of the underlying feelings and thoughts that are driving our actions, we can find ourselves acting impulsively and making unwise decisions out of self-interest and/or self-protection.  

Our human instinct to self-protect can often click into gear when someone says something triggering or when someone’s actions or opinions go against our own core beliefs and values.

Emotions Aren’t Always What They Seem

For me personally, my initial emotional response is often frustration or anger...which is really just a surface emotion covering whatever else is going on deep inside me. 

Hurt, sadness, fear…whatever the “real” underlying emotion actually is…it often wears the mask of “anger” out of self-protection.  Because it’s easier to feel angry than it is to deal with the painful emotion that lies beneath.

Think back to a conversation you’ve had recently when you felt completely unseen and unheard. 

It was frustrating, right? 

And if you dig a little deeper, you will probably discover it was also pretty hurtful, too…right? 

Being Heard is Analogous to Being Loved

When someone doesn’t listen to us, it can feel like he/she doesn’t value our opinion. It can feel like the person thinks less of us and doesn’t really think we have anything important to say.  Pretty degrading and painful.  Right?

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” 

– David W. Augsburger, Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard

We love well when we listen well.  

When we listen to another person, we show them we genuinely care.  We demonstrate that they are important to us.  

Our undivided attention speaks louder than words: it says, “I love you, you matter to me, I’m here for you.”

I want us to become better at demonstrating love to others by intentionally practicing being “all ears.”  Practice being slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen.

Listening is a skill that needs to practiced and reinforced.  Learning to listen well also helps us practice patience and self-control: two traits that look great on all of us. 

It’s so tempting to be quick to speak and jump in with our own two cents, rather than patiently listening, going the extra mile to seek understanding, and allowing the other person to explain themselves until he/she truly feels heard. 

But, I know you’re a Warrior who doesn’t retreat just because something is difficult. So, I challenge you to do the hard thing and practice being a patient, deep listener. 

My Challenge to You:

The next time you engage in a conversation with someone, I encourage you to fully engage with the individual and remind yourself to practice your listening skills. 

Remind yourself to remain grounded in patient listening with this mantra: 
 “I am quick to listen.”

I really encourage you to check out the latest sermon on Reality SF’s website so you can dive deep into all the goodies Dave shared this past Sunday (you can also find the 6/2/19 message through your podcast app by searching for Reality SF). 

Dave dives into the nitty gritty details about what deep listening looks like and how we can change our actions to become better listeners. 

Even if you’re not a Christ-follower yourself, I still encourage you to check out the talk by Dave.  Christian or non-Christian, you will most definitely walk away with some very helpful tips around how to listen well…and in turn…love well.  

Give it a go and check out the podcast for yourself.  Dave Lomas does such a wonderful job explaining in detail what it means to be good listeners and the practical actions we can take to become better listeners. 

We could all use the practice!

8 Steps to Listen Deeply

I do want you to check out the message from Dave. But, I don’t want to keep you hanging until you have a chance to check out the message. 

So for now…here’s a quick summary of the 8 steps to help us listen deeply:

8 Steps to Listen Deeply

  • Step 1: Give the person your undivided attention (I like to refer to this as “listening with your eyes”)
  • Step 2: As you listen, step into their world: listen long enough to hear the emotion that’s underneath the words they are speaking.
  • Step 3: Avoid interpreting (jumping to your own conclusions about what they’re saying), judging, or fixing.  Ask open-ended questions. 
  • Step 4: Reflect back and confirm whether what you’ve heard is accurate (e.g., “What I’m hearing you say is _____. Is that correct?”).
  • Step 5: Acknowledge the emotion you think they are expressing to you.  What feelings do you notice (besides anger – what’s beneath that surface emotion)?
  • Step 6: Confirm whether what you heard them say and what you think they feel is accurate.  Allow them time to correct if necessary before moving on. 
  • Step 7: Ask, “Is there anything else?” (e.g., “You seemed angry when you said that. Tell me more.” Or, “Help me understand _____.”)
  • Step 8: Repeat until both you and the other person feel heard.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Eight seemingly easy steps.  

Simple in theory, perhaps.  But man, I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to implement these steps on the fly (particularly during difficult discussions or disagreements). 

But as with any skill, the more we practice, the more natural it will become. 

So practice, practice practice. 

To practice listening deeply, Sean and I decided we would be guinea pigs with each other.  I decided to go old school and make us some good ‘ole flash cards (one card for each of the steps).  Last night I sat down and made a set so we could use them when we need help in the listening department so we can each be heard and understood by the other. 

We will quite literally pull those bad boys out and walk through them to guide each of us toward being heard and understood. 

It may sound cheesy…but hey, it works!  We even put them into practice last night.  And we intend to continue using them until it becomes second-nature.

Maybe consider crafting up a set for yourself as well.  And hey, have fun with it!  Maybe even go all crafty and pull out some fun markers, pens, paints, or glitter (everything’s more fun with glitter!).

Oh, and before I let you go…I have one last tip.  

One More Tip: 8 Steps for Increased Emotional Awareness

A personal take-away I had from the sermon was that these 8 steps not only help us become better listeners with others…but also with ourselves. 

We can use this same 8-step process to practice being better listeners with ourselves.  

We can learn to build more emotional awareness by allowing ourselves to experience (i.e., move through, instead of suppress or avoid)our emotions. 

We can arrive at understanding and self-knowledge by asking those open-ended questions with self-compassion and digging deep to uncover the realstuff that’s going on inside. 

So, the next time you find yourself angered or emotionally triggered by something (or someone), give the 8 step process a go. 

Walk yourself through the event that triggered you and begin to investigate. 

Ask yourself,“What’s really going on, here? What am I really feeling?”

Well, Friend. That’s all for me this Monday.  I hope you have a lovely week.

May you listen well so you may also love well.

Be grateful. Be confident. Be radiant.

If you’re interested in hearing more on how our thoughts and beliefs can affect our actions, check out this post: 

If you want to dig even deeper, check out Part 2 and Part 3 of the “Words Hold Power” blog post series:

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