Five Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills


“Listening requires more than opening your ears.”   This observation is from Bernard Ferrari’s book, “Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All.”

I haven’t read Ferrari’s book but saw this quote in a review while glancing through the Spirit Magazine on a Southwest flight between Tampa and Kansas City. The article appeared on their  “Life Apps Conversationator” page.

“Ferrari proffers advice on smart conversation habits. Here are five to try.” Show Respect. Listen to everyone. Be quiet. Understand emotions. Ask questions. This brief overview shares some examples on how to be an effective listener in business settings using those techniques.

As I read I thought, “that’s Biblical!” In the practical book of James, as he address issues of Christian living, He commands, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19, ESV).

I need to be quick to hear God’s Word. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Like Samuel of old, I should always be willing to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” My relationship with God will greatly improve, when I quit questioning, quit doubting and give up my anger when things don’t go my way.

Of course, in my daily Christian walk, all of my relationships will improve when I apply these three things–quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Unfortunately, the divine entreaty is pretty much the opposite of my nature! Too often I am quick to speak and slow to listen. And when that happens the potential is greatly increased for anger to ensue.

Ferrai’s 5 suggestions are a good model to follow in all relationships, not just business. Think about it.

(1) Show respect. The other person is made in God’s image. They have worth. Dignity. And value. If I apply Jesus’ golden rule (Matt 7:12) I will accord to others the kind of consideration that I desire. In fact, I will esteem others better than myself (Phil 2:3-4)

(2) Listen to everyone. It’s very easy to tune out others when we think they have little to offer. Or maybe we are preoccupied with concerns we deem more important. Men listen to your wives. Parents listen to your children. Preachers listen to the people you’re serving.

(3) Be quiet. The wise man exhorted, Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Eccl 5:2). Jesus is a great example of this during his trial. He was so quiet that Pilate marveled. There are times to be a person of a few words. Or no words.

(4) Understand emotions. God made us with emotions. We all have them. Ferrai said, “it is difficult to have a conversation when you’re angry, upset or frightened.” James knew it too!

(5) Ask questions. Jesus was the master of asking questions. It gives insight into the other person. Deflects arguments. Aids others to see new facts. Questions show interest in others. And will improve your conversation.

Make it your goal this week to apply this principle. Be quick to listen. Slow to Speak. And slow to wrath. If you do, your relationships at home, at work and with your friends will greatly improve.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Communication

4 responses to “Five Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

  1. Ken, I appreciate this article. I have already written my bulletin for this weekend which deals with the same subject. If I had seen your article I may have made a few adjustments on my article. It is so true that people don’t listen as they should. Thanks for writing.


  2. Glenn Blankenship

    Wonderful! Lessons much needed for me. I will disagree with one thing, though, unless I have the definition of “dignity” wrong; and that is that all people have dignity. Value and worth, yes, but not all people have dignity. That is something that has to be built. The principles and practical applications here are right on the money. Thank you!


  3. Very interesting useful article, I even sent it to my kids for general development and info. Thank you.


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