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Tips for Leaders Who Lack the Crucial Skill of Listening Well


Are you like me?  You struggle at times with listening to people?

My attention span is very, very short and it shows up in my listening skills.

After a minute or so, you will see my eyes start to look around for what’s next and then I find myself inwardly checking out of the conversation so I can move on to something else.

I may still be looking at the person I’m talking with, but inwardly I am thinking about something else.

I have to work to be a good listener.

Do you resemble this scenario?  Naturally not a good listener?  Need some help getting better at listening?

Being a good listener is a critical part of being a great leader.  People can tell when you are not really listening.  Your body language or that distant look in your eyes shows people you are not really listening to them.  They pick up on the vibe that you are simply waiting for them to stop talking, so you can talk.

Here are some tips that I am working on that can help you and I become better listeners:

Stop what you are doing.

Set aside your cellphone.  Our cellphones are constantly diverting our attention – who is calling or texting me and what do they want?

Clear your mind and focus on what the other person is saying.

Ask questions.  One of the best ways to listen to learn is by asking questions.

Concentrate on what they are saying instead of internally planning what you are going to say in return.

Practice empathy.  See the world through the other person’s eyes and emotions.  Seek to understand their perspective.

Show you are actively listening by nodding and leaning in to the conversation.  This will show the other person that you are engaged in the conversation.

Repeat what you heard and ask follow up questions.  This will show the other person you are tracking with them.

Don’t interrupt.  Listen until they are done.

Don’t bring an agenda to the conversation.  When you do this, your goal shifts to maneuvering and manipulating the conversation.

Strive for a 2:1 ratio of listening to talking.  Keep track of how much you talk vs. how much you listen.  We’ve all heard the statement that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

As a children’s ministry leader, you have lots of people that you listen to.  Parents.  Kids.  Volunteers.  Other staff members.  Grandparents.  Students.  Just to name a few.  Give them a listening ear.  With their insight, you can personally grow and you can make the ministry better.

Have any questions, ideas or insight about being a better listener?  We’re all ears.

This article originally appeared here.