Hearing Aids for Small-Group Leaders

Why listening is such a valuable tool for those of us in charge

Most leaders are good talkers, but the best ones excel in listening, as well. This is especially true in a small-group setting. Many people join discussion groups so that others will listen to them. A good leader acknowledges this need and will use it as a valuable tool to help those people learn and grow.

If you are a small-group leader, here are some "hearing aids" that can help you tune in to your members even better than you do now.

Be There

Our adult son Chris recently visited us from out of town. While the three of us were driving to his brother's home, he was telling us about his new house and job. As we passed a service station, his father interrupted him by pointing out the price of gas.

"You're not really listening to me, Dad," Chris commented.

"Of course I am," Allen shot back.

"Then why did you cut me off to talk about the price of gas?"

This example shows how important it is to be all ears when another person is speaking. If you are perceived as inattentive, you may hurt someone to the point where they will refuse to open up again—or come back.

A good leader keeps focused. It takes discipline to listen attentively when your mind is on something else—especially if that something else has to do with what you're going to say next! Remember, your group will know when your mind has wandered. They can tell by your eyes, your body language, and your comments whether you are with them or off somewhere in lulu land.

If you happen to be male, you might note the following: In a recent study conducted by universities in Arizona, Texas, and Washington, psychologists recorded 400 students of both genders over a seven-year period. The data concluded that men talk just ...

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