A note from Kelly King: Listening skills are always something I continue to work on in my personal leadership development. In today’s article, I appreciate the way Kaye explains “three-way listening.” Take time today to reflect on your personal listening style. Evaluate how you are truly hearing someone’s story and how you respond.
As I have mentioned, my dad was a general contractor. For decades he owned and operated a very successful company in Michigan. He employed hundreds of people well trained for specific construction tasks—bricklayers, framers, masonry workers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters—you get the idea. They were skilled workers! Not only were they skilled, they each had specific tools necessary to do their job well. These were considered their “tools of the trade.”
In caring for hurting women, there are specific skills and tools of the trade necessary for us to be effective. The foundational skill in your role of ministering to hurting women is listening. In previous articles we have discussed how to listen well. This week and next we will be taking a deeper dive into the topic in the hope that we will strengthen our own listening skill set.
We listen to accurately reflect back the emotion and content of the person’s story to us, not to solve their problem and certainly not to solve one of our own. Our mindset should never be toward our own personal curiosity and connections to the story being told. When the spotlight moves from the person to ourselves, it makes them feel dismissed and now puts the person in a position where they have to listen to, respond to, and care for us. Remember, every person’s experience is unique. No two divorces are the same. No two job losses are the same. No two experiences with death are the same. If you have a shared experience, simply allow it to inform and deepen your listening, not your advice giving.
There are several helpful tools to help you be a more effective listener.
One helpful listening tool is called Three-Way Listening.
Three-Way Listening is this:
1. Listen to the other person. What are they saying? What are they feeling? What are they asking for or needing? Seek clarity by reflecting back what you heard.
2. Listen to what is going on inside you emotionally. How are you feeling as you hear this person’s story or situation? Is a piece of your own story being triggered as you listen? As you listen, ask yourself, “Am I able to keep moving through the story and avoid asking questions that feed my own curiosity?”
3. Listen to the Holy Spirit. What is God saying to you? How can you encourage and affirm this person today? What internal work might God long to do in you? Listen to their story with curiosity. Pray for the Spirit’s promptings. Ask God to listen with you to their story. Explore things that beg for more information. Ask yourself, “Can I listen with a spirit of acceptance even if I have judgments of what is going on?”
Listening well and in a way that is helpful and effective is not an easy task. It requires skill and practice. I am praying that as you seek to lead and minister to others—especially women in pain—you will listen as you would want to be heard.
Hey, thanks for “listening.” Next week we will explore specific things to listen FOR and how to respond when ministering to hurting women.
As a leader, you can appreciate the value of being trained and training others for specific tasks. In fact, many of you have attended LifeWay’s You Lead training events for that purpose. If you have not, I encourage you wholeheartedly to do so. Click here to see if there is a training near you this year. It will be well worth your time.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.