Effective Listening Skills
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21. Effective Listening Skills

Listening to God

Dalmation Dog Listening at the windowIn a section about wisdom, the Book of Proverbs 1.33 says, "Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." Active listening begins with listening to God. The Oxford Dictionary explains "listening" as "giving your attention to sound or action. When listening, you hear what others are saying and try to understand what it means." Certain basic principles help us perform our evangelism well and make it more effective. That includes practical listening skills. Humans can listen to three times the number of words they can speak in a given length of time. Hence the tendency to talk rather than listen! In personal evangelism, there is a time to voice an opinion and keep silent and use active listening skills. During a music lesson, the teacher asked the difference between listening and hearing. At first, there was no response. Finally, a hand shot up, and a youngster offered this sage solution, "Listening is wanting to hear." When a person wants to hear someone else's ideas and cares about their views, they will use active listening skills. There are many positives and negatives to listening and hearing.

Effective Speaking Skills

Two SpeakersPractical speaking skills enable a speaker to communicate using familiar vocabulary and the listener to understand. It is incredible how noises outside can detract listeners from a speaker's theme. People coming in and out and other interruptions are also distracting. People cannot hear the speaker clearly with weak amplification. A comfortable temperature in the room is better than too hot or too cold. It would be wise to replace poor ventilation with plenty of fresh air from open windows. Uncomfortable chairs do not help, nor do seats that are too close and restrict legroom.

The Listener

Obama the OratorFor practical speaking skills, the speaker should have an excellent clear projection without a heavy accent. A crisp pace, not slow, and haltering helps the listener understand. A varying tone of voice and avoiding droning will assist in keeping the audience attentive. Do not drop your voice at the end of each sentence. Avoid using a "sing-song voice." It is wise to keep one's voice at a reasonable volume and not become overly emotional or start shouting. Use only familiar vocabulary, explain any unusual terms, and of course, no foul language as it will offend some. Be economical with your words and not overly flowery. Try to express your ideas clearly, being as specific as you can, and try not to use vague ideas. Your thoughts should be well structured and not disorganized. Please stick to the point, and when you have said it, do not ramble on. In your appearance, be neat and businesslike and not sloppy, and your hearers will respect your ideas. The listener, on the other hand, should be alert and not weary. He or she should be clear-minded and not preoccupied with something else. The hearer should show a genuine interest in the views of the speaker. Try to be open-minded and not biased for or against the speaker's topic, whether you agree with it or not.

"Effective Listening Skills"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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