The Number One Way to Get People to Listen

These days, respectful discourse seems to be a lost art.

Most of us are more than willing to offer up our opinions, but we're very unwilling to listen to someone else's – especially when we don't agree with that someone. We either shut down and wait for our turn to speak or, even worse, get involved in a combative, unproductive argument that leads nowhere and only makes both parties more frustrated and angry.

Whether it's at home, at work, or on social media, these scenarios repeat themselves until we simply have no desire to ever really listen to people we disagree with.

That's just not a healthy way to live. And as leaders, it's vital that we don't allow this type of negative, soul-draining discourse to infect our teams – a challenge that starts at the top, with us.

So what does that look like?

It's all about culture. Hospitable leaders create environments where truth can be spoken and heard. They create organizational cultures where people know they can share thoughts and ideas, even those that go against the norm, without fearing judgment or unfair criticism.

If you want to go deeper into the art of healthy communication, The Hospitable Leader book might be exactly what you're looking for. I have an entire section devoted to communication, including three activities that will help you create a hospitable, communicative climate in your organization.
Go find out more and read the first chapter for free!

A while back, I spoke a message to my congregation that was difficult.

It was on a topic that was part of a bigger social conversation, and I was getting a lot of questions from my congregants. It was a controversial talk, but necessary.

In the lobby after the service, a couple approached me. The husband was the producer on a well-known national television talk show that would often humorously disparage those who had my point of view on this topic.

He told me that he disagreed with nearly everything that I said. But then he added, "I respect that you said it, and I appreciate the way you said it." That couple became regular attendees. They know we might disagree on some things, but they also know that I will listen and respect them. They know they’re welcome.

This idea that everyone is welcome, appreciated, and heard is such an important point. It's one that most of us would say we agree with, but how many of us really carry this idea out in practice?

When we've built this type of culture, we can have honest, direct conversations – even when it's a difficult topic. If we have to let someone go, we can let them go with love, encouraging them and doing everything possible to make sure they land somewhere else safely. If someone isn't ready for a promotion, we can speak truth to them about their areas for growth – knowing they will truly listen and act.

And, again, that all starts with us as leaders.

When we show that we're willing to listen, people will be more willing to listen to us. That's how you avoid unproductive arguments and build a hospitable culture that promotes healthy, fruitful communication.


To hospitable leadership!      

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Becky Scholten