Are you good at listening, or are you the one always talking?  Maybe you’re a good mix of both.  Or maybe you’d rather not listen or talk!  Wherever we find ourselves, we can always improve on being a better listener which will in turn result in better health.  It may be odd to include listening in our health column, but I know firsthand that too much listening, or not enough, can damage our relationships!  So here’s to being better listeners this year…

  •  Do pause in your own thoughts and listen to your spouse, before you reply by cutting him off.  Same with kiddos.  It’s important to fully hear what the other person is saying before assuming and thinking of a response.  This just hurts them, and in turn hurts us!

  • Do be careful what you listen to.  Listening to a friend constantly bash her husband isn’t healthy for her or you.  Sitting in silence while another friend complains about other Christians isn’t wise, either.  Point these people to unload their complaints onto someone’s shoulder – that someone is Jesus.  He is the only one who can do something about the frustration.

  • Do care about friends by asking them how they’re doing, and then really listen to their answers.  Ask specific questions so that a load of concrete doesn’t spill out.  For example, ask, “How’s your mom doing? I heard she was ill.”  Or you could say, “Are you still enjoying your job?”  When they answer, listen and even take notes if you want, so you can catch up again later.

  • Do put down your phone.  Having our phones in our hands when someone is talking is just plain rude, and it’s not healthy for anyone to look at a phone constantly, instead of into the eyes of a friend or family member. 

  • Do consider the other person’s viewpoint.  If you’re an employer, listen to your employees, so that the work environment is healthy for all.  If you’re in a relationship, sometimes problems occur simply due to misunderstandings.  So repeating back what you’ve heard helps so much. Not everyone thinks like we do, although we might wish they would!

  • Do offer prayer and resources, but save your opinions and judgments and then dismiss them when you walk away.  Carrying around judgments after listening to someone in need doesn’t do either of us any good at all.  Maybe what you’ve just heard her say seems absurd, but pray for her anyway.  It’s not wise to listen to others and their marital woes, if we aren’t counselors.  We will just end up losing friends.

  • Do feel free to stop the conversation so that your ears don’t receive the vomit, as well.  If it’s obvious that the conversation is pure gossip, you are not obligated to listen to any of it.  Just politely and patiently remove yourself from the group or say you’d rather not listen.  It’s okay, and good, to close your ears to gossip.


Maybe you’re on the other end and need someone to listen to you, because you’re hurting and it would greatly improve your health if someone would really listen.  We all need to listen, and to be listened to.  I’ve found that the best and first choice is to pour out our hearts to HIM, and often that alleviates our pain.  Talking to a good friend who can be trusted is awesome.  And having a spouse that hears and validates our feelings is so wonderful.  But everyone fails at being a good listener at some time, often because of their own issues or shortcomings, or maybe they’re tired or don’t know what to say.

Listening is an art.  It really is.  Listening too much can cause us to feel heavy and depressed.  Not listening enough can create isolation and results in a lack of close friendships.  And always being the needy one with a story to relay can bring us all down.

I’m praying that I become a better and wiser listener for my health, and the health of others.  And I hope that when I need to be listened to, I find a friend in Jesus the most.  After all, we want solutions and affirmation when we spill…and he’s the best one to give both!


A Better Listener
by Marcy Lytle

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