The importance of active listening.
By Patrick G Howard
Proverbs 18:13 – Let people finish speaking before you try to answer them. That way you will not embarrass yourself and look foolish.
If you have ever taken a class, or read a book about sales, you know about the importance of listening. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, many of our favorite quotable people have talked about listening.
• Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. ~ Stephen R. Covey
• The art in conversation lies in listening. ~ Malcom Forbes
• I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. ~ Larry King
• Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery. ~ Dr. Joyce Brothers
• There is a difference between truly listening and waiting for your turn to talk. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Listening is important; so important, in fact that it can be the difference between mediocrity and success in any endeavor. And while we often attribute this wisdom to our contemporaries, the first mention of the benefit of listening comes much earlier. In fact, it comes three millennia earlier.
You see, our focus of the month (Proverbs 18:13) was written in the 10th century BC by King Solomon.
I love the Book of Proverbs. It is filled with wisdom for everyday life. And the good thing is, you don’t even have to be a believer to benefit from its teachings.
Now as usual, there is a fly in the ointment. Listening is much easier said, than done. The good news is that active listening can be learned. With that in mind, let me share my Seven Tips to Better Listening with you. Hopefully, you can pick up one or two that will help you become a better listener.
1. Turn toward the speaker and make eye contact. It is the polite thing to do, and it tells the other person that they have your undivided attention.
2. Pay attention (but don’t stare). It’s uncomfortable when somebody is staring at you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be attentive. Just screen out the distractions, and hear what the other person is saying.
3. Don’t judge. When the speaker says something that you disagree with (and they will), don’t start formulating your response. Just hear what they have to say.
4. Don’t try to complete their sentences. Some people love to drag out their point. Don’t try to speed up the pace by finishing their sentences. It tells the speaker that you are more important, and that you don’t really care what they think. Besides, it’s very rude.
5. Don’t plan your response while the other person is still making their point. Think about it for a moment. How do you know what your response should be, when you don’t even know what you are responding to, yet?
6. Empathize with the speaker. Nothing will help you understand the other person more than putting yourself in their shoes, and feeling what they feel.
7. Give the speaker regular feedback. This can be something as simple as a head nod, or a “hmm…” It shows the speaker that you understand what they are saying.
And now, one BONUS TIP …
Listening is more than just hearing what is said; it is also about picking up on what is NOT said. Non-verbal cues will lend context to what the speaker says, and will help you understand what the they intended to say.
I hope you can put these tips to good use. If so, won’t you consider sharing with everybody at our next CBFA meeting?
Until then …
Pray about everything.
by Patrick G Howard
Philippians 4:6 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Many times, when people read this verse they think about how difficult their life is. Everybody experiences difficulties from time to time – money, relationships, career, health, addiction. Every life experiences rough times, which makes giving thanks difficult.
Think about it.
When you lose your job … your marriage sours … a loved one dies … our first reaction is often to complain or feel sorry for ourselves. STOP IT!
You may think you have it bad, but Paul had it worse. This verse is an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. He wrote this letter to help them deal with specific, very real issues. He also wrote this letter from his prison cell while he was awaiting trial by the Romans.
Paul had every right to be angry and bitter, but instead his reaction was to pray. Instead of dwelling on his current situation and feeling sorry for himself, he demonstrated how all Christians should react when faced with adversity – with joy and thanksgiving.
I think we all agree that we SHOULD always exhibit joy and thanksgiving, but you may wonder HOW we can do it. After all, Paul didn’t have much to do in his jail cell except write letters and pray, but we lead very busy lives. It’s not practical to stop your car and pull to the side of the road to pray when somebody cuts you off on the freeway. When your presentation starts going the wrong way, you can’t always just stop and pray. When the school calls with a problem, our first reaction is not to pray, but to jump in and deal with it.
Why do you suppose that is?
Of course, it’s not always practical, or even possible to stop everything, find a quiet place and pray. (Sometimes it is, though.) I think God understands that. However, there is a way to pray, even if you’re busy. Even if you’re in a room full of people. Even if you simply don’t have the time. You can always say a whisper prayer.
If you have never heard this term before, a whisper prayer is a short sentence or phrase that can be said quietly or to yourself. I know of one person that has a simple one-word whisper prayer – Jesus.
Many people write theirs on a Post-It note and stick it on their computer monitor … car dashboard … coffee maker … anywhere they are likely to see it often. I placed mine on the bathroom mirror, so I can start the day with my whisper prayer. It says, “God is with me and for me right now.”
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to write a whisper prayer TODAY and use it every time prayer is appropriate – always.
Trust God’s plan for your life.
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Our monthly focus for July 2017 is rich in advice about how we should live our lives, and conduct our businesses. Before I explain, let’s review what was happening in this chapter.
You will recall that Moses led God’s people through the desert, in anticipation of their inhabiting the Promised Land. Because he didn’t fully trust God and disobeyed His command while in the desert, Moses would die before he could lead the people into the Promised Land.
After Moses’ death, Joshua became the new leader of God’s people.
Joshua was well equipped for the task. You see, he was a natural leader – tall, handsome, confident. People were naturally drawn to him and would gladly follow his lead. He was also well schooled. Before he died, Moses taught God’s law to Joshua. He knew exactly what he was expected to do. He knew that if he obeyed God, victory would be his.
Think about what might have been going through Joshua’s mind as the time approached to lead his people into the battle at Jericho. He was well-prepared and had God firmly on his side. Even so, if he was anything like us he had his doubts and fears.
In this chapter, God speaks to Joshua. He tells Joshua that he must follow the law exactly as it is written, and must not vary from it in the slightest; and if he does that, God will be with him and victory will be his.
When I read this chapter, I can almost imagine the conversation God has with Joshua. I can see God standing there, talking to Joshua, and maybe sensing that Joshua had his doubts about their ability to win the battle of Jericho. I can imagine God scolding Joshua, saying, “Dude. Didn’t I tell you to just be courageous? Didn’t I tell you that I would be there with you? What’s your problem?”
As it turns out, Joshua was faithful, and God was with him.
But, what does this have to do with our lives and our businesses today?
God has a plan for you. Not only that, He has given you a unique set of skills, abilities, and traits to enable you to accomplish His plan for you on Earth. He has placed you in the job or business where He wants you to be. And just like Joshua, all we must do to be successful is follow His instructions.
So, what do we do instead? We worry and complain.
We worry about how we’re going to get more business and then stress over how we’re going to be able to fulfill our over-abundance of new orders. We complain about the government getting in our way. We jump from one concept or product to another to try to capture every possible customer out there. Or worse, we try to run multiple businesses before we learn how to run one. We try to be all things to all people and end up being nothing to anybody. We do this because we don’t follow God’s plan for our lives.
STOP! Be courageous!
God has a perfect plan for you. Ask Him what it is, and then follow it. And when God’s plan doesn’t align with yours (and it usually doesn’t), trust Him. Remember, it isn’t often easy to walk in faith.
God isn’t asking you to be fearless; He is commanding you to be courageous.
Try it, and let us know your experience at the next CBFA meeting.