Have you ever been in an argument where you noticed that you weren’t really listening to the other side because you were too busy thinking of your rebuttal? I know I have. I have also noticed that in ministry sometimes I am working hard to form a solid reasoning for why a student should do “something” that I don’t always here what they really are saying. I have found, especially with girls, that you have to really hear what they are saying to understand them. (I mean that in the best way possible!!)
Here’s 3 things I do to help me really listen better:
1. Find a good location. If I am in the youth room and there are other students around I can’t hear anything but words. I feel so ADHD in the youth room. I see people sitting alone or notice someone who hasn’t been in awhile…I am easily distracted. One Christmas party, a student walked into the room right to me and was crying. SHE WAS CRYING AND TALKING at me…and in all honesty all I could think was we are suppose to start the santa relay game right now. Luckily, she said something about her parents that triggered my attention back to her. I asked another volunteer to run the game and took the student out of the room to talk. Finding a quiet place with no people is huge for me when it comes to really listening. Included in finding a good location is forgetting about the other locations and focusing just on this student in this moment.
2. Notice the “feeling” statments. Try to get pass the details of the situation and listen for statements that indicate their feelings. Girls (myself included) can get lost in the details of a story- because we assume that if you know the details you will understand the feelings but that just isn’t the case. Don’t be afraid to stop a story and ask the girl what she is feeling. “How do you feel about that?” May be a funny humor “bit” but it can get to the heart of the situation quickly.
3. Listen for your role. Excuse my overgeneralized gender statements…but sometimes girls just need to vent and they don’t nessecary need a game plan for dealing with the situation. And sometimes guys just need to come up with a game plan:)! They probably need more from you than a safe place to vent but listen first to see if they already know the help they need. Sometimes, it’s a confirmation of a decision or intervention for a friend. LIkely, they have come to you because they need you…they might need you to speak wisdom into the situation but first give them a chance to resolve it with your help.
I am still trying to learn to be a better listener, I have a long way to go… What tips do you use when listening to students, especially girls?