Presenting the Good News—By Being a Good Listener
1 In the July issue of Our Kingdom Service, the importance of developing conversations with householders was considered. We hope that you have tried some of the suggestions offered, with good results. In doing so, very likely you have come to appreciate the need to be a good listener.
2 A willingness to listen is an evidence of sincere interest. People respond to that. Hence, it is good to be “swift about hearing.” (Jas. 1:19) Listening carefully helps us to know what to say and how to say it. Our interest in what is said can prompt a householder to say more, giving further opportunity to witness more effectively.
3 Listening means more than just hearing with our ears. It means paying attention with a genuine interest in the welfare of the speaker. It calls for a display of unselfishness, kindness, patience and self-control. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Besides the words, note the tone of voice. Is the speaker happy or depressed, pleased or angry, proud or humble?
4 Many householders are somewhat reserved or skeptical when we try to converse with them at the door. Use of tactful, friendly questions is one of the best means to encourage them to express themselves. When they comment, always look for points of agreement and try to build on that rather than taking exception to some wrong view.
5 Sometimes we are prone to talk too much and to “preach” to people. Even if we ask questions, the tendency is not to listen to the reply when we have a prepared presentation in mind. Subconsciously we may be afraid that if we stop, the householder will lose interest and turn away. Have you felt that way? It is good to remember that a warm conversation is far more appealing than a cut-and-dried “sermon.”—Eccl. 3:7.
6 Being a good listener is a help in making return visits and conducting Bible studies. People like to be treated with respect and given personal attention. When they comment we can ask ourselves: Does he really understand? Is he using good reasoning? Does he grasp what the Bible says and believe it? What you are able to learn as a careful listener may determine your success as a teacher.
7 Due to increasing pressures of this generation, interested persons are often burdened with many problems. They become depressed and need encouragement. A listening ear sometimes does wonders for another’s spirit. While we must be careful not to pry into their personal affairs, or make decisions for them, we can show ourselves to be a true friend who wants to help.—Prov. 18:24.
8 So, to be a good teacher, one must be a good listener. We can appreciate why Jesus advised his disciples to “pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18) If we listen, others may listen to us and save their lives.—1 Tim. 4:16.