Listening is a way of loving people from the heart.  It is the bridge over which we travel in our relationships with others as we truly show them we care.  James' epistle says, ". . .let every man be quick to LISTEN, but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper."  (James 1:19 Phillips translation)  H. Norman Wright, the Christian behavioral psychologist says, "Listening means that when the other person is talking to you, you are not thinking about what you are going to say when he or she stops talking.  Listening is completely accepting what is being said without judging what is said or how it is said.  Listening is being able to repeat back to another person what she/he said and what he/she was feeling."

          Ken Durham writes in his book, "Speaking from the heart," ". . .listening is an act which communicates to another, 'Right now, I am here for you.  No one else, just you.  I want to hear and understand what you have to say.  I'm all yours.'  Listening is allowing the other person to set the agenda for the conversation, seeking to clarify his/her point of view.  Ultimately, listening is helping (persons) to understand themselves better."  The following poem sums it up pretty well:




When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice

          You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me

          Why I shouldn't feel that way

                   You are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do        something to solve my problem.

You have failed me, strange as that may seem.

          So please listen and just hear me.

And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn;

          And I'll listen to you.

Source Unknown

A c t i v e   l i s t e n i n g

The Active Listener hears from the heart.



          Active Listening is a reflective way of listening not only to the content of a message, but for the emotional tone as well.  The skilled Active Listener consciously provides a soundboard for the counselee.  The Active Listener has a hearing ear and a hearing heart as well.  There are four strong characteristics of Active Listening:


          1)  INTENTIONAL - The   Active  Listening  spouse  intentionally seeks to experience as accurately as possible all that the counselee is saying.


          2)  FOCUSED  - The   Active  Listener   focuses   on   what  the counselee is self-disclosing or reporting about their inner selves.


          3)  INTERPRETIVE -  The   Active   Listener  attempts   to recognize the meaning  of  the  counselee’s  thinking,  feelings, and attitudes about their  circumstances.  The Listener   interprets non-verbal  as well as verbal output. The interpretation must be given final approval by their counselee.


          4)  CONVEYED -  The   Active   Listener  conveys  the  fact  that

they  are listening.  This is accomplished by body language, eye

contact and proximity to the sharing person.  Regular perception

checks are made by the Active Listener to validate that they are

perceiving the counselee accurately.



          When you feel you understand what your counselee is feeling, preface what you say with. . .

          "It  SOUNDS LIKE  you're pretty mad at God."


          "You're  FEELING ANGRY  with yourself."


          "Help me to UNDERSTAND, you're UPSET with you or me?"

These are not the only "lead-in" statements, but they are generally good for most situations in Caregiving to those who are needing our care.  After you reflectively give the "lead," LISTEN and WAIT.  The counselee will irresistibly respond.  LISTEN more and WAIT more than you speak.


Adapted by Rev. Philip B. Roland, 724-981-5683




Three ways to listen to a speaker:

LISTEN – Do not respond verbally, just listen. Love and support can be given non-verbally with the eyes, body language and voice tone.

LISTEN – Respond verbally by reflecting the emotion(s) of the speaker. Temporarily set aside your own feelings and your own need to respond as you do this.

LISTEN – Democratically allow the speaker’s ideas for solutions to mingle with your own resolutions for conflict.  Choose a solution that allows for a “win-win” strategy that meets the needs of both parties.


Here are a few ideas that will help you listen more effectively:

  1. No Reacting – Become “pro-active” rather than “re-active.” Reaction happens w
  2. When you are threatened.  Be sensitive to hidden “shame messages” in your over-reacting.

“What do you mean, ‘We need a new addition to the house?’”

“This house is perfectly OK!” 

“Nothing ever makes you happy!”

2) No Fixing – Listening is not attempting to change a person’s mood or fix their problems.  Your urge to fix can take the person out of their feelings and deny them an important part of their humanity.


3) No “You” Statements – When you speak, do so for yourself and do not guilt, blame or shame the other person.


“The trouble with you is that you’re _________.” Whatever you say at this point will put the other person on the defensive and shut down the communication process.




Pastor Phil Roland, Sheepfold Ministries, 2004






The Velveteen Rabbit is a children's book with a message for adults. In the book is a nursery dialogue between a new toy rabbit and an old skin horse. As they are lying side by side one day, Rabbit asks the skin horse:


            "What is REAL?  Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"


          "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.  "It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL."


          "Does it hurt?" asked the rabbit.


          "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  "When you are REAL you don't mind being hurt."


          "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"


          "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.  "You BECOME.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.  Generally by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are REAL you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."



FROM CHILDREN’S BOOK, The Velveteen Rabbit