We all know the polite but exhausted stare on someone’s face as they try to listen to someone talking non-stop about themselves for hours.
And, we all know the joy of watching two people interact for an hour with both of them coming away refreshed, inspired, and happy.
What makes the difference?
I’m passionate about this topic and would love to share a few things I learned along the way. I haven’t always implemented these points well when I’ve been going through a lot. We all have times where we need to talk (and talk and talk) about our lives, but as a general rule, hosting another’s heart is an art to learn if we want to bless others in conversation.
It doesn’t take crisis for all of us to need others. Daily, how we engage in conversation can either exhaust or uplift those we speak with.
Let’s look at six ways we can host others well in conversation:
1. Ask questions about his/her life.
Asking questions takes you into someone’s life and hopefully, into their heart. It is an invitation for someone to open up, if they wish to. Like a verbal welcome mat, questions invite someone to cross the entrance into your heart, where you show care.
This brings us straight to the next point.
2. Keep up with their narrative by asking more questions or sharing thoughts about their story.
Many people use this time as an opportunity to jump right back to themselves. “She shared, now I get to share” is the most common response when it should be “She shared, now how can I show her that I heard her fully and care about what she shared?”
Rather than respond by immediately sharing your own story, comment on something she spoke about. This invites her/him to open up even more and creates space to be fully heard on multiple fronts.
3. Listen until you can tell the person you’re speaking with is done.
Don’t be afraid of small pauses in the conversation because this will show him/her that you’re listening well by not jumping in too quickly with your own story. You are creating space for her with your pause.
4. After listening well, be authentic about your own experiences, likes, dislikes.
Timing is important, but great conversation goes both ways. I have a great friend who always makes a point to ask me multiple questions about myself when we talk. After hearing me out, she talks about her life as well. I know she does this because she’s also aware of this key factor in conversation where we both give and receive authentically. We can laugh, talk seriously, or simply share about our day. Because of all these factors, we often comment on how much we enjoy talking.
Authenticity is a major key to fulfilling relationships.
5. Pray WITH people.
Many of us find it easy to say “I’ll pray for you” rather than asking “May I pray WITH you?”
I love when people pray with me. It is much more meaningful than being told they will pray for me, having them walk away, and wondering if they’ll remember to pray.
6. Be yourself.
Every time you try to be someone else (or something else), you lose who you are. And, no one can be the authentic version of YOU. People need you, God needs you, and you need you to be fully you.
This doesn’t mean ignoring personal growth or denying flawed areas in your life. Being fully alive means we chase down areas we need to grow in and allow others to speak into our lives.
Being yourself is not the same as the modern, humanistic version of “love yourself”. If I loved myself that way I’d be in denial of any needed growth. Some of us need to repent of ourselves more than we need to love ourselves. In this way we run after growth and become better versions of the authentically real person God created and wanted on this earth.
Being ourselves means we accept our basic personalities, looks, and even history. We accept what we cannot change in order to make room for things we can change. We become fully content in our story so we can create an ever growing story in our lives.
By not fighting who we are, we now become inviting to everything we were born to be, experience, and touch. Radical acceptance sets us free! And in this way we open the door for others to enter our lives.
Cheers to all my sisters who love and listen well!
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Yay I love this!!
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