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Five Things Good Listeners Do

Truly listening will help you know how to help meet the spiritual and temporal needs of others as the Savior would.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Perhaps even more important than speaking is listening. … If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit” (“Witnesses unto Me,” Apr. 2001 general conference).

Listening is a skill we can learn. Listening shows our love for others, helps build strong relationships, and invites the Spirit to bless us with the gift of discernment to help us understand others’ needs. Here are five ways we can improve how we listen.

1. Find Common Ground

You might not agree with everything said, but agree with what you can without misrepresenting your own feelings. Being agreeable can help defuse anxiety and defensiveness (see Matthew 5:25).

2. Reflect

Paraphrase what you heard and how you understand the other to feel. This helps them know if they have been understood and gives them an opportunity to clarify.

3. Give Them Time

Many people need time to gather their thoughts before speaking. Give them time to think both before and after they say something (see James 1:19). Just because they are finished speaking doesn’t mean they have said everything they need to. Don’t be afraid of silence (see Job 2:11–3:1; Alma 18:14–16).

4. Pay Attention

We think faster than others speak. Resist the temptation to jump to conclusions or to think ahead to what you’ll say when they’re through (see Proverbs 18:13). Instead, listen with the intent to understand. Your response will be better because it will be informed by greater understanding.

5. Clarify

Don’t be afraid to ask questions that clarify something you didn’t understand (see Mark 9:32). Clarifying reduces misunderstanding and shows your interest in what is being said.

President Russell M. Nelson taught that we should “learn to listen, and listen to learn from one another” (“Listen to Learn,” Apr. 1991 general conference). As you learn to listen with the intent of learning about others, you will be in a better position to understand their needs and hear promptings about how you can care for those around you as the Savior would.

Based on an article in the June 2018 Ensign.

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