COVID-19: Stewardship is operating as usual and we are aiming to provide as close to normal service as we can.
Please click here for regular updates

The 3 Essential Steps to Listening Well

By Charlie Osewalt | 17 February 2016 | Comments (5)

3 Essential Steps to Listening Well - a Stewardship blog

What are the essentials of good listening? Different people, websites, teachers and doctrines all agree on a few key principles. They are:


  • be present 

What does this mean? As I listen (and not just hear) to what someone shares with me I have to still my inner voice; my judgements; my suggestions and any tendency to ‘problem solve’, as well as stilling my inner distractions and dialogue. When I do so, I am present for the other, not myself.


  • be affirming 

What does this mean? As I listen I hear the words and absorb the details of what the other person is saying. Then, when they have finished speaking and I have not interrupted their thoughts and words,  I ask whether they have anything else to say or whether something else come to mind? I then repeat what they have said to make sure that I have heard them completely and correctly. Some call this ‘mirroring’ because you reflect back to the person what they have said. This practice is affirming because it demonstrates that they have been correctly heard.


  • be patient

Being patient means  allowing space for silence. At times someone needs you to just be seated by them, in silence, knowing that another is there for them. Silence is a dear friend of a good listener.  It indicates that some situations require more than words, or no words at all. Some situations only require a person sitting still and listening to the other, especially their sound of silence.


“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8: 22-28 The Message


Read more like this:

One man, a sofa, a sign that says 'I will listen'

Generous Humanity: what does it mean to be human?

I wish I were...

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt


Pat Middleton

February 17, 2016 10:57 AM
Thank you I have found this helpful, printed a copy and mean to practice real listening in the future

Stephen Bechervaise

February 17, 2016 12:47 PM
Thank you Charlie. I too have printed it off and will try very hard to be a better listener.

Ann Clarke

February 18, 2016 1:23 PM
Listening rather than just hearing to what someone has to say raises their self-esteem and makes them realise that they are worth being with. In our busy lives, it is all too easy to listen with half an ear but we need to give the other person our full attention.


February 21, 2016 9:02 PM
Thank you so much for these tips. I am one whom has a habit of jumping in mid conversations which I know is very distracting. I will Bare in mind the importance to be still and listen intensively.

Lucy Glass

March 26, 2016 8:56 AM
I have been a hairdresser now for over 40yrs listening is so important but everyday I have to remember it's a two way conversation .some of my ladies I known for 40yrs and are like the mothers I never had loosening my own members of my female family at a young age. .I know how blessed I am these ladies have been everything to me The wisdom of the wise and elderly is awesome And listening and also been drawn into family is such a privalage and it starts with a open ear.

leave a comment:

Your comment will have to be approved by a site administrator before it is shown on the site so please be patient.