The Art of Listening - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Graduate Studies
August 16, 2016

The Art of Listening

Long an underappreciated skill, listening is an integral aspect of communication and relationship building. It's arguably more important than speaking - “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)” Without understanding the true context of what the other person has to say, you cannot respond in a meaningful manner. Listening allows you to strengthen your relationships not only with friends, family members, and counseling clients, but also with God. As a counselor, it is imperative that you master this skill, as it will allow you to gain greater insight from God and from your clients, who cannot truly benefit from your services unless you understand the full extent of their concerns.

Listening to God

Often, when people speak of the art of listening, they merely cover the importance of listening to friends and significant others. But while listening can prove valuable in both social and professional contexts, its true value lies in its ability to help you build a stronger relationship with God.

As in any conversation, true listening is always the trickiest part; it can be difficult to open yourself up to God's word when your own thoughts or other distractions insist on intruding. His voice can arrive at any time, so it is imperative that you develop the sensitivity needed to hear what He has to say. This sensitivity can be cultivated through regular prayer and scripture readings along with daily periods of quiet reflection. Consider carrying a journal with you so that you can take note of God's messages and reflect on their meaning in your life. This will help you cultivate a deeper relationship with Him while also allowing you to build the listening skills needed for success in Christian counseling.

Listening to Others

The bulk of your work as a counselor should involving listening. This can be a tricky balance to strike because in everyday life you may be accustomed to a conversational give and take that focuses as much on your contributions as on those of other speakers. In counseling, however, you should allow others to unburden themselves of the negative thoughts that keep them from reaching their true potential. When you do speak, it should be evident that you are in tune with the client and are able to translate his or her mental chatter into valuable insight. As in your conversations with God, you should look for all messages, even the most subtle. Tune in to the other person's eye contact (or lack thereof), hand gestures, and tone of voice, all of which can combine to tell you a rich story about his or her experiences as a child of God.

The more you practice listening, the easier it will be and the richer your relationships will be with other people and with God. Exercise that listening muscle and you'll reap the rewards, both professionally and in your personal life.

Geneva College can help you become an effective counselor and achieve your working degree with an M.A. in Counseling. To learn more, contact us today at 855-979-5563.