Many conversations could be more profitable if we simply learn how to listen. Listening is not a difficult art to master, but it does have to be intentionally developed. This takes training and discipline.


For starters, I feel that many times we need to keep our mouths shut.  Everyone wants to be heard. Remember, everybody is important.  Once I witnessed someone sharing an idea with a leader. Abruptly the leader said, “Nope, that won’t work. It’ll never happen.” This attitude is not one that gives others a sense of being heard.

Secondly, like anything else we must have the desire to be a good listener.  Here are a few more things we can work on if we want to develop in this area. I’m not the world’s best listener, but I want to be.

Third, simply let the other person talk without interrupting. I think the 70/30 rule is reasonable. Try letting the other person talk seventy percent of the time.

Fourth, we should not be preoccupied with what we are going to say at the earliest opportunity. We often interrupt just so we can get our “two cents worth” in.

Fifth, others need to feel we are engaged in what they are saying. Often ministers tend be some of the biggest violators of this. I’ve had “conversations” while they are constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure an opportunity to say hello to someone is not missed.

Sixth, we need to develop the habit of making others feel they are the most important people in the world. We need to focus on what they are saying without thinking, “Well, I had a similar thing happen to me when I was in Africa.” Then we launch into our own story

Seventh, we should be careful to not be so full of ourselves  that we become the center of the talk. I don’t know why we do this. Possibly it’s that we have a need for others to think we are the only ones doing anything for God.   Proverbs 27:2, reads, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.”

Lastly, we should find a good listener to learn from. I consider Wayne Wilks to be my mentor in the art of listening. One day I suddenly realized that he asks a lot of questions. I’m now learning from him to do the same thing. He asks things that’s not normally answered with a yes or a no. Usually good questions begin with Why, How, When, What or Where.  This way we encourage mutual participation.

Let’s show others that we value them by intentionally listening to what they are interested in.