What’s your next step in becoming a better communicator?
Jesus was a master communicator. He was in a league of his own. He taught with authority. He leveraged the power of story. He could hold large crowds captive with his memorable words.
If anyone had the right to communicate by monologue, it was Jesus. Yet he often chose to listen.If anyone had the right to communicate by monologue, it was Jesus. Yet he often chose to listen. Click To Tweet
Jesus actively listened to God the Father, and he was keenly attentive to promptings from the Holy Spirit. He also listened to his disciples, to the powerless, to people who didn’t understand him and even to those who wanted to twist his words.
Jesus listened on many levels. He listened with his ears, his eyes and his presence. He listened to the deeper heart cries beyond people’s words.
Listening is a hallmark of humility. It’s a doorway to learning. Listening is an expression of hospitality. It’s an act of love.Listening is a hallmark of humility. It’s a doorway to learning. Listening is an expression of hospitality. It’s an act of love. Click To Tweet
Listening is different than waiting to speak, making assumptions or talking louder. It’s not about tuning into an echo chamber that just reinforces our entrenched position. At the same time, listening doesn’t require alignment or agreement.
Instead, listening involves inviting, pausing, asking, seeking, waiting, valuing, empathizing, learning, understanding and discerning.
In an environment of growing polarization and increasing incivility, listening is one unique way to Lead Different. It’s also opens the door to build desperately needed relational bridges.In an environment of growing polarization and increasing incivility, listening is one unique way to Lead Different. It’s also opens the door to build desperately needed relational bridges. Click To Tweet
Here are five practices to improve your communication by growing as a listener:
1. Slow Down – Listening to God (or anyone) requires slowing down. Jesus had intentional rhythms when he pulled away to listen. Does the current pace of your life and leadership help you listen to God? If not, what might not listening well be costing you or your leadership? What needs to change?
2. Be Present – When my kids were younger, I began a habit of leaving my smart phone at the front door when I came home from work each day. My kids wanted me to be fully present, and I didn’t want to send my kids the message that I was only half present with them.
In the Gospels, Jesus seems to be incredibly present with each person he’s with. How present are you when you are with others? What would others say? Are there any distractions you need to set aside?
3. Ask Questions – Jesus asked profound questions, and then he listened. Instead of trying to find the right words to state a point, how could asking a question help you better understand?
4. Engage Community – Sometimes we hear better in community. For starters, there are more ears listening, more perspectives needed and more hearts discerning. Community listening and discernment can also help us see past our own blind spots or limits. Who can help you better listen and discern?
5. Invite Input and Feedback – Feedback is like breakfast for leaders. We need it to live and lead well! What additional channels of feedback can you develop to hear from your supervisor, team, members, etc.? Who are you actively seeking out and listening to who doesn’t look, think or act like you?
Cheering you on to Lead Different by listening well!
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership