Years ago, I was a mentor charged me to show people I cared before telling them so. I John 3:18 states, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Similarly, James 2:18b states, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” These verses are a few proof texts to reinforce that our actions carry more weight than our words when communicating care and concern for those around us. Even folks who do not embrace a biblical worldview seem to know this principle intuitively. In recent years, I have had the privilege to participate in a one-day executive roundtable lead by best-selling author and speaker, John Maxwell. Maxwell has often been heard quoting Teddy Roosevelt who said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
When was the last time you invited a friend or colleague to lunch to ask, “How are you doing?” Most of us live or work near someone who could use this show of friendship. There may be unique circumstances that would limit us in our work situation, but within the bounds of professionalism, most of us have the freedom to engage in such a meeting. The challenge is in listening. We demonstrate that we care about others when we listen. Like any other skill, listening takes practice. Our default mode is to wait for our turn to talk and not truly listen. This common practice shows that you care more about your idea, experience, or need than you care about the other(s) with whom you are communicating. Philippians 2:3 challenges us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This includes communication. Good listeners in the workplace set themselves apart.
In conversation, it can be helpful to share a little of your own experiences. This can promote a level of comfort for the conversation between the “listener” and the “speaker.” Care must be taken for the listener not to shift the focus to himself. Likewise, good listeners need to develop the ability to ask good questions. Open- ended questions allow the “speaker” to share, and perhaps, discover more about the situation. Reflective listening demonstrates that one understands what is being communicated. In this practice, the listener summarizes and repeats back to the “speaker” what he is hearing. One can improve their ability to listen through practicing a few simple techniques.
In my last three posts, I have attempted to remind us that God designed us to be listeners, listening; communicates humility, and listening communicates that we care. May you be encouraged to be aware of your ability to listen and improve upon this vital skill.