Are You a Good Listener?

Pastor Ted Cunningham says, “Social media is a place where people share their opinions without sticking around for the conversation.”

He’s right. A lot of people like to share their opinions, but few like to listen. Beyond social media, that’s also a big problem in marriage, in parenting, and in interactions with friends and extended family.

Listening has become synonymous with approval, agreement, and wholesale acceptance of someone’s opinion. The natural response, then, is to talk over people and to express our point of view to the exclusion of all others.

Proverbs 18:13 says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

So, let’s bring some clarity to what constitutes healthy human interaction.

Listening to others does not mean we approve, agree, or accept someone else’s opinion. A healthy husband will not be threatened by listening to his wife. A healthy wife will not be threatened by listening to her husband. Disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean that you hate them. It means you have a difference of opinion. We can listen to other opinions without seeing them as an attack on ours.

Listening means I’m getting to know you. Listening communicates, “You matter to me. I want to get to know you. I want to find out what’s in your heart.”

Learning to listen well begins by identifying poor listening skills. On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Are You a Good Listener?” Pastor Ted Cunningham shares 15 listening styles that facilitate poor connection and communication:

  1. The Nodder
  2. The Eye Roller
  3. The Eye Wanderer
  4. The Bored
  5. The Watch Glancer
  6. The Scroller
  7. The Distracted Listener
  8. The One-Upper
  9. The One-Downer
  10. The Over-Validator
  11. The Bottom-Liner
  12. The Interviewer
  13. The Hijacker
  14. The Debater
  15. The Sentence Completer

In contrast, only one listening style is necessary to facilitate healthy connection and communication: an empathetic listener.

Join us for our program on your local radio stationonline, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app. Pastor Cunningham offers great, nuts-and-bolts ideas – along with a good dose of humor – that will help you listen to others and show you care, rather than resorting to debate and arguments.

Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He is one of the main speakers, with our own Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, at our Love, Laugh and Pursue events for married couples

For a gift of any amount, we’d like to offer you a CD of this Focus on the Family broadcast. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.

We also have many other resources related to marriage, parenting, and faith available in our online store.

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Jim Daly

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