I often find that asking people questions about what they are doing or how they decided to do a certain task or project is a great way to offer encouragement and acceptance. I am now convinced that people need encouragement much more than they need instruction.
Asking a question and then giving someone the latitude to share their thoughts on it offers acceptance of the differences we have from others. Listening, without mentally focusing on how we are going to tell them to do it a better way, can bond us together in deeper ways. Active listening offers people the respect and courtesy to share their hearts and ideas without feeling corrected or as if they are in need of “fixing”.
I’ve heard it said that if you give someone 15 minutes to speak, they will tell you everything that is important to them. How much more value can we bring to our relationships if we offer the gift of listening to people (especially those who are important to us), and then using what we learn to offer encouragement in their endeavors?
Think about it. People often point out the mistakes, flaws and errors they see in others or in situations. How often do you hear someone comment on how enjoyable something they experienced proved to be? It’s refreshing, but rare.
Take every opportunity to develop the strength of character that is found in truly listening. People will be drawn to you as well and will be more likely to offer encouragement when you open your heart to share the things you value.