In Part 1, I shared that I had received an e-mail newsletter (A Love Language Minute) from Dr. Gary Chapman entitled How to Be a Good Listener. In the e-mail newsletter, Dr. Chapman focuses on ways to address quality time, one of the five love languages. Since that is one of my love languages, I read the newsletter with heightened interest. In Part 1, I shared the first four of Dr. Chapman’s eight steps “to become a sympathetic listener.” In Part 2, I will share his final four steps in all capitals followed by my commentary:
REFUSE TO INTERRUPT. This one is so simple but so important! Sometimes I am not a patient listener. But listening with care means that we must resist offering quick solutions, expressing opinion, or changing the subject. We must allow the talker to share with our full attention. Even when we want to interrupt, we must resist. Of course, asking questions for clarification can be done without being considered an interruption.
ASK REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS. As you listen, clarify what is being said with nonjudgmental questions. Ask with genuine interest. But avoid asking nosy, “I need to know everything” questions. Ask only what is germane to the current conversation and which shows you are interested and paying attention. These could be questions like “are you saying…”, “what happened then”, and “does this mean than…”.
EXPRESS UNDERSTANDING. If you are observing eye contact and body language, not busy doing something else, listening for feelings, not interrupting, and asking reflective questions, then you are doing a great job of listening. But it is important to give visual and verbal clues that you are paying attention and interested. That is why you nod your head, repeat what was said, and say, “uh huh.” I like how Dr. Chapman put it in the newsletter: “The person needs to know that he/she has been heard and understood.”
ASK IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU MIGHT DO THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL. Rather than jumping to conclusions and offering help that may not be needed, why not simply ask what you can do. You might even ask what the next step is. I like Dr. Chapman’s word of caution here, “Never give advice until you are sure the other person wants it.” I would say the same about offers of help. Showing you care is not trying to “fix the problem.” It is your presence with the person. Sometimes simply listening is exactly what the person needed AND NO MORE.
Imagine what might happen if your class became better listeners. Review Part 1 to look at all eight steps. Then, choose one of the steps for you (or your class as a whole) to give greater attention to this week. Set a goal to focus on and improve that step. When your listening improves, your care naturally is better. Your presence with the person and your care make a difference. Listen. Care. Be revolutionary!