Proverbs 18:13 "He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame."

The skill of listening to others is probably one of the most benefitial skills a person can ever develop. I say develop, because I don't think that it is a skill that comes naturally to most people. Here are some of my reflections on listening.

Listening to Criticism:
I think there is a time and a place for nearly everything, and there is a time and place for listening to criticism. My habit has become to do the following when someone is criticising me: 1) Listen to what they are saying
2) Discern what there motive is (help or hurt)
3) Concider the criticism (is it true or false...what part of it is true...what part is off base)
4) Repharase what I've heard from the person (put it in my own what you're saying is...)
5) Own the part that is truthful (you know, I think you're right....)
6) Discuss the part that is false (ask questions, and limit defensive responses)

Listening to Other Leaders:
One of the best ways that I grow as a leader is to listen to what other leaders think. Here are some of the ways I do that:
1) Ask probing questions (Questions that don't have yes or no answers...questions that get to the behavior or beliefs of the person)
2) Take notes (The weakest pen is better than the strongest mind)

Listening to People in Need:
As a pastor, I am often asked to meet with people who are hurting or confused. Here are some of the ways that I try to listen to them.
1) Ask them to share their story (this comes easy to most people)
2) Listen for key issues, beliefs or behaviors that have caused their pain.
3) Discover a next step together (most people simply need help determining their next step)

Listening to Build Bridges to Others:
Here are some of the things I've learned about listen to others to build trust and relationships.
1) People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care...Listen to them.
2) Ask lots of questions...People like talking about themselves.
3) Don't try to "one-up" them...The goal is not to have the better story.
4) Rather than show how smart you are...compliment them.
5) Show a genuine interest in the other person.
6) Remember the persons name...this should be number 1 or 2.
7) Listen for what other people are interested about their interests, not yours.

How to Influence People by Listening:
One of the greatest books ever written on this subject is, "How to Win Friends and Influence People". This should be manditory reading for every leader within any organization. Shoot, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading it. Here is a primer on ways to use listening skills to lead others.
1) The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2) Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
3) If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4) Begin in a friendly way.
5) Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
6) Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7) Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8) Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
9) Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10) Appeal to the nobler motives.

Wow, so that's a lot for one day, but those are my thoughts (and some of Dale Carnegie's) on listening...enjoy!
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