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Listening’s Hard to Learn!

Use the Talking Stick

The practice of listening is so important it was used 412 times in the Bible, let alone all the other synonyms used to describe it.

It's not easy, but let's talk about why we need to be better at really hearing others. The Bible talks about listening, a lot. Here are some of my favorite verses.

let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

Prov. 1:4-6 NIV

but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Prov. 1:33 NIV

Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

Prov. 8:33 NIV

The importance of listening has been woven through great works since the dawn of time. The introduction to the book of Proverbs tells us why it was written. (Hint: It was written so that we would listen.)

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;

Prov. 1:1-3 NIV

Notice that listening is only valuable when you put what you hear into practice. But you have to start with wanting to listen and learning to listen well.

If You’re Not Holding the Talking Stick — LISTEN

A talking stick might be a way for us all to listen more than we speak. What is a talking stick, you may be wondering? Wikipedia does a fabulous job explaining it.

The talking stick, also called a speaker's staff, is an instrument of aboriginal democracy used by many tribes, especially those of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast in North America. The talking stick may be passed around a group, as multiple people speak in turn, or used only by leaders to symbolize their authority and right to speak in public. Either way, individuals are not supposed to talk without being given the talking stick, and when you have the stick, you can keep it until you are entirely done talking.

A close friend gave me a talking stick. He clearly knew I need it. And I don't mean I need it to give me time to speak—just the opposite. I interrupt people far too much!!! It is a bad habit I am aware of and am working to correct.

The talking stick can be a humorous, yet effective, way to help yourself and everyone in a group start listening. You can find them online or just grab a stick that you find someplace. Explain the rule to your group:

Whoever has the stick may keep it until they feel they have finished completely. Then they can pass it to the next person or the leader says who gets the stick next. 

Try it. Let’s start a new movement focused on teaching each other how to listen. It’s an incredible way to gain wisdom.

I'm quite partial to this gift, but a talking stick doesn't have to be this fancy. It could be any stick or object you have laying around.

A Book Recommendation

My friend Al Lopus just came out with his new book, Road to Flourishing, Eight Keys to Boost Employee Engagement and Well Being. Al is the CEO and co-founder of Best Christian Workplaces Institute. 

If you are engaged with non-profits at any level you will benefit from reading this guide. It takes you through how to build a more effective workplace with happy people getting the job done.

Find it on Amazon

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Bob Lonac

About Bob Lonac

Today, friends call me a leader of leaders. But this wasn’t always the case.

During my life of working in faith-based, Christ-centered ministry, relationships have proved to be the common thread. My passion is helping other people grow through one-on-one mentoring and small group training. I love building teams. I love seeing people and organizations succeed. You can read more about my story and what I'm doing now.

I am still learning a lot and it would be fantastic to share this journey with you! If you haven’t yet, sign up for my email newsletter so we can stay connected.