Do People Think of You as a Good Listener?

There is great potential for doing much good by really listening to another’s story.conversation.jpg

I was a young minister. He called late one afternoon. He was the manager of a popular restaurant in town. He asked if he could come by my office and talk.

He arrived later that afternoon. I watched through the window as he parked his new yellow Corvette. New. He was in his late thirties and well dressed.

I decided that I didn’t like him.  

Why? I suppose it was jealousy. At the time, Charlotte and I were just getting by financially. We had a new baby. We had only lived in this city for about a year. We were renting a house and trying to figure out how to pay the bills. I felt a lot of stress.

So before I ever met this man, before I ever heard his story, I decided that I didn’t like him.

He had not been in my office five minutes when he began to cry. He worked many, many hours at the restaurant and felt as if he was successful and unstoppable. He had been offered various promotions. Then, he became involved with another woman. Now, his wife was taking their two small children and was leaving him.

“I have nothing.”

He went on to say “I have lost my marriage and my children. I have no real friends. I have disappointed so many people.” He told me about his mistakes, his failures and his sins. We talked at length and then I prayed for him.

My heart went out to this broken man.

After he left, I realized that my own heart had not been broken enough. Initially, I had decided that I did not like him because of my own jealousy and discontent. Before I had even met him, I was totally focused on what he seemed to possess have that I did not have. Not good!

Years later, I have learned to be slower–much slower–about drawing conclusions about people. Far too many times, I have misjudged people and have assumed bad motives when there were none. Often, when I have hurriedly decided that I don’t like someone it is because of my own insecurity or jealousy.

The following are important questions that I now want to consider when talking with another person:

1. How does Jesus see this person? (If I were to know what Jesus knows about this person, how would this impact the way I treat him/her?)

2. What is this person’s story?

3. After this conversation is over, will this person feel as if I really listened?


What happens in a conversation that causes you to come away feeling as if that person has really listened?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 thoughts on “Do People Think of You as a Good Listener?

  1. Jim, thanks for this story. I do think there’s a physical presence that shows people are listening and not just thinking of what to say next. I also think that asking questions rather than jumping in with advice is also part of it.

  2. Margaret! It is good to hear from you. You are so right about a certain physical presence that indicates whether we are listening or not. (Which can be quite challenging in a public place when you are trying to listen to someone in the midst of numerous distractions.)

    By the way, I put you in the category of “excellent listener.” You do this well.

  3. This is what made Jesus so unpopular–He spent time with the undesirables of the day and gave them the time and attention that others felt they weren’t worth receiving.

    • Benjamin, I really appreciate your honesty regarding this. That is one huge step that so many of us never get around to taking.

    • Hi Karen!
      Very true. And when we have only heard these out-of-context statements about another, when we finally meet him/her, so often we can hardly recognize them. As you said, we have made this person out to be this one-dimensional character that is almost unrecognizable up close. Thanks Karen.