By Bill Search
Great discussions involve two key pieces: the first is asking good questions, but the second is active listening. Let me give you some counsel on how to be an active listener.
Look at the person who's talking.
Make eye contact with them. Don't thumb furiously through your copy of the scriptures, answer e-mails on your phone, or talk to your neighbor. Look at the person who's talking.
My mother used to always say, "You listen with your ears not with your mouth." If you're talking, then you're not listening so don't interrupt the person who's talking.
Seek to understand, not judge.
This one's a little tricky for some of us because we're used to sort of making judgment calls. We're used to listening to people and the whole time thinking, "Is that right? Or maybe that’s wrong?" After the person is done talking, we have the tendency to say, "Let me push back on that," or "I'm not sure I agree with you," or "I'm not so certain about that." But instead of immediately judging them, do the fourth thing.
Ask follow up questions.
Ask the person, "Could you clarify that? Could you help me understand that a little bit better? Could you help shed more light? Could you say that in a different way?"
Asking those follow up questions will help that person know that you really want to know what they have to say and that you want to understand them. We all tend to be imprecise in what we say and how we say it, so we usually need those follow up questions to help us clarify what we're trying to communicate.
These are very simple things that you can do to be an active listener in your group and enjoy a great discussion.
*This is the sixteenth post in a series of 27 Tips for Small Group Leaders
BILL SEARCH is the author of Simple Small Groups. He has served in ministry for nearly 20 years. Bill loves spending time with his family, drinking great coffee, listening to jazz, and enjoying the great outdoors.
By Bill Search Once you've discovered the future leader in your group, the next question is what do you do with them? How do you get them involved in the art of leadership?
By Bill Search Group leaders don't just fall from the sky. I wish they did, but they don't. In fact, the number one way that group leaders emerge is when other group leaders find them. Let me speak to you as a group leader in what to look for in future group leaders.
By Bill Search There are some things that your group can do outside of group time to help build the missional pattern, to help the members of your group cultivate hearts for other people.
By Bill Search Confronting is one of the scariest parts of any small group experience, and maybe that's why a friend of mine coined the term "carefrontation." The idea is that you merge caring and confronting together, and you carefront somebody.
By Bill Search I want you to be on the lookout for a handful of, say, personality types that if left unchecked could do great damage to your group.
By Bill Search Curriculum is just a tool designed to help you lead a discussion. So here’s some advice on how to use it well.
By Bill Search There are some things that you can do to encourage growth in Christ outside of your group time. Let me suggest a few to you.
By Bill Search The second pattern of a healthy group is changing to be like Christ. In other words, as a result of being in a group, people should be different.
By Bill Search Learn to have deeper and more meaningful prayer time in your small group setting.
By Bill Search Great discussions involve two key pieces: the first is asking good questions, but the second is active listening. Let me give you some counsel on how to be an active listener.