“Listeners make better lovers,” says the commercial. What, it’s not listeners, but milk drinkers? Well, if you don’t like milk or have an allergy to it, there’s still hope for you to become a better lover: by learning to listen from your heart. Here are seven ways to do that:
1. The eyes have it. When we look into someone’s eyes as they talk, rather than staring out the window or planning our next meal, we show them respect. We also gain more insight into their thoughts and feelings. We can uncover pain, disappointment, fear, or joy by making eye contact when we listen. This type of active concern leads to greater understanding and deeper love between us.
2. Ask questions. We endear ourselves to others by asking questions regarding their interests. I’m not the movie buff that my husband Kevin is. But if I ask, “how many Frank Capra films was Jimmie Stewart in?” Kevin comes alive. He knows I truly care about him and his hobbies. In the same way, if Kev asks, “how’s your Vista article coming along?” I’m convinced of his interest in me as a writer, not just as his wife. I can feel his love.
3. Body language shouts. Leaning forward, raising our eyebrows, nodding, and smiling are excellent ways to listen from our hearts. Folding our arms, rolling our eyes, and cleaning out make-up drawers or tool chests while someone is trying to talk to us shouts, “who cares?” Imagine your body as a Yes, We’re Open! sign rather than a Sorry, We’re Closed! sign, and others will open their hearts to you.
4. Can the rude ‘tude. You probably know people who own first-place trophies from the W.F.I. (World Federation of Interrupters). They’re about as much fun to be around as cats fighting at midnight under the bedroom window. When we wait for people to finish what they’re saying before we speak, we give them the dignity they deserve, and gain their respect. Leave a pause of three to five seconds before you speak, to give others time to process their thoughts. Some of the wisest insights come in the form of afterthoughts. If we rush to speak the second it seems a person is finished, we might miss something glorious.
5. Mirror, mirror. We prove our interest by reflecting back what we think we heard. “So, you aren’t saying that people who prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate are idiots—just that it’s a matter of taste?” tells Kevin I was listening with my heart, and wanted to understand his point of view. We don’t have to agree with everyone’s opinion, but it’s essential to healthy relationships that the other knows we listened with our heart.
One of my favorite TV personalities, Fred Rogers, sang a song called, “There are many ways to say I love you.” Listening with your heart is one of those ways. It’s also a creative method for service to your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Which one of the above ways will you incorporate into your conversations this month, to become a better lover?