I tend to overcomplicate a lot of things, but in my gut I really want to keep things simple. I believe that something as vital and difficult as listening to another person can be incredibly simple. As I've mentioned in previous posts, if we can't learn to listen to someone, then we can never truly help them. This is a tip I've learned recently, and I thought I'd share. Consider the acronym: SOLER
Look and ask
1. Sit squarely. When we're listening to another person, it is important to sit facing them. How would you feel if I was supposedly listening to you with my physical body facing a complete opposite direction or a slightly different direction? Body language is half the battle of listening.
2. Open stance. How would you feel if someone was 'listening' to you with their arms crossed? Take notice the next time you are listening to someone. Are your arms crossed? Oftentimes, our mind and heart are reflecting the same position as our arms crossed outwardly. We might be judging the other person's situation or simply thinking about something else. Either way, we're not listening.
3. Look and ask. Look for moments to ask good questions. I feel loved when people ask me questions. However, we shouldn't come across as detectives to the people that we're listening to. The hope is to guide conversation through staying engaged. My job is to listen.
4. Eye contact. This is my personal pet peeve. When I'm talking to someone, and they are looking everywhere except at me, I just want to stop talking. Eye contact with someone is huge and can go along way in helping us listen more effectively. Even if we have other things going on in our minds while we're trying to listen well, having our eyes focused on the speaker will help remind us of our focus.
5. Relax, Relax, Relax. We don't fix people. That's God's job. People can come to their own solutions to their problems if we'll give them the opportunity. So the pressure is off us! Just love and listen. Speak truth when needed, but make sure we're listening more than we're talking. If we're not relaxed, we're probably not listening. And if we're not listening, we cannot help.
"To answer before listening— that is folly and shame." Proverbs 18:13