Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships, because you can’t love people without listening to them.
There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. You can hear something without really listening. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with my kids or my wife because I was focused on the words and wasn’t listening to the emotions. Sometimes the words don’t even matter. Somebody can say to you, “I’m fine,” but the way they say it tells you they’re not fine. Listening means you also hear what the person isn’t saying.
That’s called empathy. Empathy means to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and learn their point of view. You ask yourself, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”
Listening with empathy means you listen without interruption and you listen for fears and feelings. You listen for what the other person isn’t saying. You’re not trying to fix the situation. Sometimes healing comes just by listening!
Romans 15:2 says, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).
What does it mean to be considerate of other people’s doubts? It means that when people are in so much pain and hurting so badly, they need the devotion of a loyal friend—someone who will be present and listen with empathy. Choose to be that kind of friend.
What are some specific ways your body language can demonstrate that you are really listening to another person?
What is the benefit of asking yourself, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”
What are some ways you can limit interruptions and distractions when you are trying to listen to someone?