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The story has been told of a new commander who was sent to an army fort on the American frontier. He soon was involved in a conference with an important Indian chief. Working through a translator, he nervously asked the chief a number of questions and was surprised to get no reply. After the meeting, he asked the translator why he had gotten no response. The translator replied, “That’s what we call Indian time. He has enough respect for your questions to go away and think about them before answering them.”

Maybe we all need to practice more Indian time. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        His thoughts were slow,

        His words were few and never formed to glisten.

        But he was a joy to all his friends,

        You should have heard him listen!

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Listening is not just passive hearing. It is an active participating experience in which you pay genuine attention to what the other person is saying. Here are some principles that should help you become a better listener:

        1.Don’t grab the conversation: “Yes, now take me, for instance…”

        2.Don’t let your gaze wander from the other person’s face except momentarily.

        3.Validate the feelings of the other: “yes, I see what you mean.”

        4.Don’t interrupt.

        5.Don’t try to top the other person’s story or joke.

        6.Don’t criticize.

        7.Ask appropriate questions: “What happened then?” or “How did you feel?”

        8.Don’t argue.

        These guidelines are cited by Cecil C. Osborne, in The Art of Getting Along with People.— Grand Rapids



Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.

"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.'

"Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'" 

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14.

Two psychiatrists meet at their 20th college reunion. One is vibrant, while the other looks withered and worried. "So what's your secret?" the older looking psychiatrist asks. "Listening to other people's problems every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me." "So," replies the younger looking one, "who listens?" 

American Health, quoted in Reader's Digest.

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir." It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I'm sure she had it coming."

Source Unknown.

How good a listener are you?
1) Since you think about four times faster than a person usually talks, do you use this time to think about other things while you're keeping track of the conversation?
2) Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?
3) Do you avoid listening to things you feel will be too difficult to understand?
4) Can you tell from a person's appearance and delivery that there won't be anything worthwhile said?
5) When someone is talking to you do you appear to be paying attention when you're not?
6) Do certain words and phrases prejudice you so you cannot listen objectively?
7) When listening are you distracted by outside sights and sounds?     

Leadership, Vol.1, No. 4, p. 99.

Teenage prostitutes, during interviews in a San Francisco study, were asked: "Is there anything you needed most and couldn't get?" Their response, invariably preceded by sadness and tears was unanimous: "What I needed most was someone to listen to me. Someone who cared enough to listen to me." 

Jim Reapsome, Homemade.

Formula for handling people: 1. Listen to the other person's story. 2. Listen to the other person's full story. 3. Listen to the other person's full story first. 

Gen. George Marshall, Bits & Pieces, April, 1991.

Good listening is like tuning in a radio station. For good results, you can listen to only one station at a time. Trying to listen to my wife while looking over an office report is like trying to receive two radio stations at the same time. I end up with distortion and frustration. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention. To tune into my partner, I must first choose to put away all that will divide my attention. That might mean laying down the newspaper, moving away from the dishes in the sink, putting down the book I'm reading, setting aside my projects. 

Robert W. Herron, Homemade, June, 1987.