By Rick Warren
”The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5 NIV).
Listening is a skill. And if you’re going to be effective in your prayer life—and in all your relationships—you must develop it. Here are four tips to become a better listener.
1. Withhold judgment and criticism from the start.
Don’t evaluate until you’ve heard and comprehended it all. I’ll admit that this isn’t natural. When someone else is talking and you hear something you disagree with, you’re tempted to say, “Time out! Stop right there! Let’s deal with this.” And you never get any further. But you need to hear the person out. Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.”
2. Keep calm.
Don’t become defensive. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” If you’re patient, you’re wise. You need to be patient with people who are less mature and those who misjudge. You need to remain calm.
3. Be an active listener.
You become a good listener by asking creative questions. Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” This verse says the real meaning of people is down inside of them. A person of understanding will be able to draw others out with questions.
4. Paraphrase and summarize.
To be a good listener you must be able to tell a person what they’ve just told you before you talk about what you need to talk about. Before you share your side of the story, you need to let the other person know you understand where he or she is coming from. Paraphrase what they’ve said back to them.
Rick Warren is founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. This editorial first appeared on Warren’s daily devotional website.