The Key to Better Relationships? Listen with your Heart

In this week’s post, I want to challenge you. The first challenge is to not read the next few sentences and delete or move on from this post because you need to hear what I have to say. Pun intended.  

I want to encourage you this week to work on something that you have been told 1,000 times. And while most of you will agree it’s a good idea, many of you will brush off the concept the same way you do when someone asks how you are and you instinctively reply, “fine,” even if you aren’t.

So instead of tuning me out, lean in and listen to what I have to say. There is not only growth for you on the other side, but you will also find an improvement in your relationships with other people. Especially those whom you seem to struggle with the most.

I will give full credit to my pastor from his sermon last week, Reverend Matt Tuggle for the concept I am writing about today. It turns out that his proposal is remarkably similar to many of the encouragements I wrote in my book, Mustard Seed Faith

Reverend Tuggle suggests that in order to create an environment for healing relationships we all need to focus on and continue to learn how to employ compassionate listening. I could not agree more. If we attempt to continue to develop the mindset of “seek first to understand, and then be understood,” compassionate listening will become a valuable tool.

So what does compassionate listening mean, and how should you go about implementing it into your relationship skills? To be compassionate implies that you are sympathetic and concerned about the misfortunes of others. In addition, you also feel compelled to reduce or alleviate suffering. 

This is a whole new level of listening to understand how other people think and feel. This is setting aside your own objectives, agendas, and opinions to truly give yourself over to completely understanding other people’s feelings. The best way to employ this tactic, in my opinion, is to become an astute questioner and then don’t just listen to answers, feel the answers.

I want to be very clear that I am not asking you to sacrifice your beliefs and opinions in order to show compassion to other people. I am strongly suggesting, however, that you do go out of your way to be open to other people’s ideas in order to be able to bring civility, respect, and acceptance that our culture and country desperately need. 

Finally, as Reverend Tuggle suggests, you can listen with compassion, even if you disagree with someone else’s convictions. This lost art can be restored. One compassionate conversation at a time. Our country, our religious beliefs, our political persuasions, co-existed for hundreds of years, and can again. Where coexistence has not yet become a realization, it can begin with listening to other people’s issues with compassion and empathy. Those are character qualities that know no race, no creed, and no color.

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