Multiplication Center

“Listening In&” to Peoples’ Lives

June 26, 2013

Frequently I get invitations from people to “speak into” their lives.  These might be clients I am coaching or even people who request a meeting with me when I am out speaking somewhere.  These are always people looking for advice and/or observations from my perspective.  I don't mind their request!  After all, I am a spiritual leader, and most of us spiritual leaders do this a lot!  Sometimes we “speak into” peoples' lives from pulpits, in publications, or in person in one-on-one encounters.  It's what people expect from us, and most of us are happy to oblige, since people need spiritual direction.

But I think it's also important for us to “listen in” to peoples' lives as well.  Maybe even more than we are doing.  On more than one occasion I have found myself jumping in with my “sage advice” when I was not really up-to-speed with the information I needed for my advice to be helpful.  I watched this in a group dynamic just the other night when one person in attendance shared a personal prayer request that stirred up quite a bit of feedback from the group.  Not one person asked a follow-up question for clarification, which would have greatly informed their suggestions. Most of their advice was based on their own personal experience, which had little to do with the petitioner's personal dilemma!

We all know what it feels like to be part of a “conversation” where we did none of the talking and the other party did none of the listening.  I've met people who apparently think that I want to know more about them than I really do, and seem to believe that every encounter is a way for them to update me with more news–about them. I've probably been that person, so don't write back to remind me.

Through the years I have become marginally better at “listening in.”  I usually do this by asking questions, trying not to interrupt, and being quiet. I think it has allowed me to be more helpful to people.

Just thought I'd “speak into” your life so you can “listen in” more with others.

Thanks for listening!

Recent Articles