I see Mrs. Talks-a-Lot headed right for me in the K-Mart aisle. Not good. I glance quickly around for an escape route. Finding none, I put on my Christian happy face and hope for a miracle.
Admit it. You know exactly what I’m talking about. We all have moments when we don’t want to listen, and the reasons vary with different situations.
How to respond when you don’t want to listen
Let’s look at some common reasons you don’t want to listen. And some options on how to respond in each situation.
He will talk on and on and on . . . and on—and you have a hard time escaping
1. Mention to him that this isn’t a good time for you. Ask to reconnect later.
3. Listen for several minutes. Then stop the person by saying, “I need to go, but before I do, let me pray for you.” Pray a short prayer. Smile, walk away, or turn your attention elsewhere.
She’s a gossip
1. Interrupt with a safe, non-gossipy topic.
2. Consistently make a positive statement about the person she is gossiping about. This usually frustrates a gossip.
3. If need be, you can always comment, “I’m more interested in what God’s doing in your life. Tell me about your God adventures.”
You don’t like her
1. If the person has deeply wounded you, avoid her until you have processed that wounding with Jesus.
2. If the person is someone unlikable, get over it. How will you ever learn to love if you don’t have unlovely people in your life?
You’re busy and he’s interrupted you
1. Interruptions are ministry opportunities. At least they were for Jesus. Much of his ministry happened because he allowed people to interrupt whatever he was doing. Learn to go with the flow and let some interruptions blossom.
2. Mentally decide how much time you can give him and then listen for that amount of time.
3. If your boss is the interrupter, drop what you’re doing and listen.
4. Explain that you’re busy and ask if you can get back to him later.
She wants to correct you
1. Listen. Don’t defend. Just listen. Then say, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I’ll give it some thought.” End of conversation.
2. Listen and learn. Jesus might be using this correction to work his image in you.
You’re not in the mood to talk
1. Put your bad mood on the shelf and listen.
2. Ask to reconnect later as this isn’t a good time for you to talk.
She’s asking questions that are none of her business
1. Ignore her questions. Instead, change the subject to something that would be her business.
2. Ask her a question that has nothing to do with her question and requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
He’s talking about stupid stuff you aren’t interested in
1. Change the subject to something interesting—like your stupid stuff.
2. Become his hero by asking lots of questions that keep him talking about his stuff. You won’t believe how this little gear shift can make you the most interesting person in the world to him. Your popularity status goes through the roof.
So there you have it. Any other suggestions? And, oh, thanks for listening to me. Susan
“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.
Improve Your Listening Skills Even When You Don’t Want to Listen (Helpful listening tips for the workplace)