Do you ever feel like we’re living at a time when people are talking past each other rather than with each other?
I like to think that I’m the kind of person with whom people want to discuss life for hours . . . that I’m an excellent listener who’s emotionally supportive offering just the right balance of encouragement and wise advice.
But I’m pretty sure that’s not always the case.
Every day you and I leave little pieces of ourselves behind through the conversations we have with family, friends, coworkers, and yes, even strangers.
And I want the pieces I leave behind to be blessings that glorify God.
The truth is…
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Carl W. Buehner
7 Ways to Be Someone with
whom People will Discuss Life
1. ASK QUESTIONS
Ask open-ended non-prying questions.
I want to know about people … their struggles, opinions, beliefs, etc. I think that’s how we learn about each other and grow ourselves. Be an active attentive listener and care about people’s beliefs and opinions.
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.Philippians 2:4
“When you really listen to another person from their point of view and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.”
2. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK & LISTEN WITHOUT INTERRUPTING
“Recent research has indicated that the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting and interjecting his own ideas.” ~ Gary Chapman
Whew, no wonder we’re having trouble listening and loving each other well. Maybe it’s time for us to start caring more about people than we care about being right.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.James 1:19 (CSB)
And Solomon wrote:
Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.Proverbs 18:13
3. BE WILLING TO TELL YOUR STORY
We don’t have to tell every little dirty detail of our lives but we bless and encourage each other when we’re willing to honestly share the ways we’ve experienced God at work in us and around us. And we might end up finding out that we have more in common with each other than we thought.
And God is glorified when we proclaim what He has done.
Jesus told a man He delivered from demons:
“Go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.Luke 8:39
4. BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE AND TONE
Turn your body toward the person, put your phone down, and make eye contact. Keep your arms open and your posture positive. Avoid negative body language—like crossed arms and eye rolls. And when you speak, agree enthusiastically and disagree calmly and quietly.
Our body language and the tone of our voice reveal more than we think. It’s been said that…
10% of conflict is due to a difference of opinions. 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice.Unknown
The heart of the wise has power over his mouth and adds learning to his lips.Proverbs 16:23
5. APOLOGIZE WHEN NECESSARY
I make conversation mistakes often. I don’t listen the way I should, I’m easily distracted, and I interrupt and speak way too quickly. I’ve learned that saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” can turn a conversation around when it’s heading off the rails.
James also wrote:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.James 5:16
6. BE YOUR-Beautiful-SELF
God created you and me for this time and place. He created us to be in relationships and He knows every person that we will meet along the path He has prepared for us. So remember . . . the Lord created each of us with the important qualities He wants us to use to bless one another.
Be your best but be yourself. Relax and have a little fun. It will bless you, too!
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:10
7. IN THE END – ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE
So much of what is going on in our world could be improved if we communicated with patience, gentleness, kindness, and compassion.
That sounds downright Biblical…
The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.Galatians 5:22–23a (NCV)
A Prayer to Become Someone
with whom People will Discuss Life
Father, thank you for creating us to help and encourage one another. I have been blessed countless times by those You have sent to walk along side me with wisdom and godly counsel.
We live at a time when there is so much divisiveness in our country and even in our churches. It often feels like people are struggling to truly listen to one another. So often we see criticism instead of compassion and conversation. Jesus told us to “love each other just as [He] has loved us.” (John 13:34)
Loving like Jesus is being helpful, caring, forgiving, and yes . . . listening.
Peter wrote that we should be ready to share our faith with “gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
When we are good listeners who speak with gentleness and respect, we become people with whom people want to talk about faith and discuss life. Please forgive us and help us. Fill us with Your Spirit and make us more like Jesus. In whose name, I pray. Amen.
It’s not uncommon for me to receive challenging comments on social media.
My prayer is to pause for a bit so I can reply gently and respectfully. I don’t know that anyone has changed their beliefs based on our interaction but I do know that if I responded with snark and sarcasm they may not even consider what I have to say.
So, let’s remember that we are all sinners who have said and done things we shouldn’t. We are all people who need love and forgiveness. We all need Jesus. And that is our mission, to lovingly tell the world about the One who loves them so much that He gave His life for them.
God has given us everything we need to discuss life and share God’s grace, mercy, and love.
May God bless you and strengthen your relationships through wonderful conversations.
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