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Thoughts on Transitioning: Active Listening

Active listening  is a  communication  technique that requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.

Love this definition of Active Listening. Experience tells me that going into any sort of transition and/or change, it’s best to fall back into a listening posture. However, I’ve always felt that the word ‘listening’ sounds too passive at times. So of course, I love the word active listening.  It’s listening with purpose. It’s listening with intention. It’s listening that requires concentration.
Here are some tips for active listening:
  • Look the individual in the eye. Eye-Contact please.
  • It doesn’t hurt to clarify. Seek extra information.
  • Repeat what you hear from someone. I’m not talking word-for-word, but parrot what you hear from them. It helps with the clarifying.
  • Affirm their position. You may not completely understand where they are coming from, but you can always reflect their feelings.
  • Summarize the conversation when you’re finished.
My recent move into a new place and a new environment puts active listening right there at the top of things I need to do. So I sit on ‘my opinion‘ and ‘my perspective‘ and ‘my context‘; and instead put energy and aim into actively listening. Listening for the things not said outright, but the heart behind those words. I’ve learned that after actively listening to someone, it better prepares me for a response. And more importantly, it helps me determine if a response is even needed. (I’m going to read that last sentence over and over to myself…)
There will be plenty of time down the road for me to speak, talk, and advise; but for now I’m listening. And I’m learning that it’s not a bad posture at all. In fact, I’m going to work at being better at this all the way around.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.