“It was great to walk together. You were such fun to talk with.”

I waved goodbye–we were too sweaty for a hug—and I smiled at her parting comment as I walked down the stairs. It was an unusual rainy day in Abilene, so I sought cover for a walk in the recreation center when I crossed paths with a friend who had the same idea. Want to be a better listener? Pay attention to these 3 obstacles that keep us from listening well.We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we walked together and talked while we lapped the small track.

Her parting comment stuck with me because the truth is, I hardly said a single thing as we walked and “talked”. She talked. I listened. The whole time. I guess that’s what made me fun to talk with–that I actually didn’t talk. I asked a few clarifying questions, but other than that I simply listened.

Just last week I was on the other side of the conversation when I met with a friend and mentor. We sat on her back patio with a cup of hot tea, hoping it would hurry the arrival of cooler fall days. This time I talked. She listened. The whole time.

It’s a rare gift when someone listens with undivided attention. We think that a good communicator is a good talker. Truth is, a good talker may not need to talk much after all.

“There is only one rule for being a good talker – learn to listen.” Christopher Morley

It sounds simple. But listening isn’t so easy, or we’d all be better at it. There are too many noises that interfere with the silent art. I’d like to invite you to pay attention to 3 obstacles that keep us from listening–

  1. Learn to listenDistractions —the cell phone, TV, other people, our own problems and tangled thoughts.
  2. Our ego— it makes us think about what to say next instead of focusing on what the other person says. The ego drives us to match their story with one of our own stories–with a little more grandeur. And it shifts our focus to fix the person’s problem instead of listening to their problem.
  3. Lack of time—when there’s no margin in the schedule, there’s no time for deep listening. We interrupt to wrap up a conversation or to cut a long story short when we’re in a rush or we think we have more important things to do.

“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.” Dean Jackson

So if you want to be a “good talker”, talk less and listen more. Try these 3 tips to be a better listener–

  1. Turn down the distractions.Listening is an art
  2. Deny the ego.
  3. Make time in the schedule.

Try it in your family, with your friends, in your ministry, or in the office. It can make a family meal, a day on the job or a spontaneous walk on the trail more meaningful.

Give the gift of your attention to the people around you.

Talk less. Listen more.

Leave a comment about tips that help you be a better listener.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19

Linking up this week with Grace and Truth.

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