How To Get People to Listen to You

My daughters and I have a favorite local breakfast place. We’ll pile into a booth, unload the backpack with coloring books and markers, and enjoy the kids’ bickering a lovely meal together. Recently, at the table next to us, I saw two couples. Couple 1: arms folded, heads nodding meaningfully, and who I never heard speak a single word. Because they were with Couple 2: a lovely wife, nodding, listening… and a man who never stopped talking long enough to take a breath the entire meal.

“What a goofball that guy is!” I said to myself, patting my own back for how much awesomer I am at listening.

Meanwhile, my own kids are about to start WW-III because I haven’t heard a thing they’ve been saying to me in the past 10 minutes.

And I wonder why I often sometimes feel like nobody’s listening to me?

If we want people to listen, we need to be good listeners! {Image: voronin76 via bigstockphoto.com}

If you can relate to that, you’ll love today’s post by Kelli Wommack, a dear friend and regular guest blogger here!

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These days we are inundated with words.

We are writers, bloggers, speakers, and avid conversationalists. Our vocabulary is ever increasing day by day. We play Words with Friends on our iPads, text messages on our iPhones, tweet profound quotes in 140 characters or less, and update our Facebook statuses when we go for a run. We long to be wordsmiths, but often find ourselves wordmongers. We strive to be word-artists, but can be just word-vommiters at times. Words haunt our dreams at night and fly through our minds during the day. Words. Words. Words.

I attended a “Parenting Teens” conference this weekend and realized my number one issue in raising my teenager and my tweenager is… I talk TOO much. Go figure. If you know me at all, you know that cannot be the case. 😉  Yes, I love to talk. In person. On the phone. Social Media. Skype. The method doesn’t matter, I just love to talk.

Unfortunately, I also learned that I listen TOO little. You know the adage:

“God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”  ~Irish Proverb~

In addition, James 1: 19 encourages:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Quick to listen? Unfortunately, I am quick to do a lot of things – talk, judge, assume, act, and respond – but not usually listen. But I want to learn! So many relationships in my life can benefit from my learning to listen more and better. My relationships with my husband, my children, my extended family, my co-workers, the people I minister to, and my friends don’t always need my words. Sometimes, maybe even often, they need my ears a lot more.

Maybe you struggle with this, too.

How can we learn to be better listeners?

  • Pray for help in this area. Pray for self-control. Pray that God would bring to your mind when you are quick to speak instead of listen.
  • Practice listening. Just like anything else, listening is a skill that requires practice. Though it comes easier for some than others, repetition of this skill can help us all.
  • Pause before speaking. Ask yourself: Do I need to speak now? Or am I just filling in gaps in the conversation? What really needs to be said?
  • Pose questions to the other person instead of giving answers or opinions all the time. This encourages two-way conversation instead of lectures.
  • Prioritize simply being present. Are you fully present in your conversations with others or are you prone to daydreaming? Multi-tasking? Selective listening? When we stop what we are doing or thinking and fully engage with the other person, we are able to listen to them – and listen well. What is more important:  Cleaning out the dishwasher or listening with eyes and ears to your child when they come home from school?

Are you a great listener and can give us some great tips? Or are you like me and need some improvement in this skill of listening? I would love to hear your thoughts… I am all ears.

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Kelli Wommack is a motivational speaker, writer, and blogger and loves seeing people reach their full potential in Christ. In her role as Serve Minister at Christ Community Church in Georgia, she has the awesome privilege of rallying others to find their unique place of ministry. Her favorite home team includes her loving, funny, yet quiet husband, and her two loving, funny, and not so quiet children. Connect with Kelli on her Facebook Page, Twitter, and her Website.

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  • Diane W. Bailey

    I agree with you Kelli, I too tend to talk, or write or unload the dishwasher better than I listen. Thank you for the reminder.

    • http://lauriewallin.com/ Laurie Wallin

      Ooo, that really brings it home, Diane. SO many things we do better than listen. And I was just going to go fold about an hour’s worth of laundry. Made me think, girl!

    • Kelli Wommack

      Thanks, Diane. We all need the reminder… and it is better if we remind each other, rather than our children reminding us!