Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

January 2004
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Helping Others to Listen to You

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

The following are some guidelines that will help you to be more effective in getting others to listen to you with understanding and reception:

1. Know what you want to say. You must be clear. The listener will not be able to understand you if you talk in vague and fuzzy terms. What often happens is that the listener puts fuzzy information together in a way that makes sense to him, often not realizing that it wasn’t what the speaker intended. Both people come away from the interaction thinking that effective communication took place when it did not, which often leads to misunderstandings and conflict. Simple, specific terms are less likely to be misunderstood. Present ideas one at a time or in small bits; do not try to say too much at once.
2. Present yourself in a credible manner. In the way you dress, stand and speak, you should make it easy for others to take you seriously.
3. Speak with conviction. If you don’t look or sound like you believe what you are saying, why should anyone else believe it?
4. Know as much as possible about your listener. The more you know your listener and speak in terms he will understand, the more your content will be relevant and interesting to him and the more accurately you will be able to understand his responses.
5. Speak at the level of your listener. When someone talks over a person’s head, it can be taken as a put-down by the listener. On the other hand, talking below a person’s understanding can also be perceived as a put-down, because the listener feels patronized and “talked-down-to.” Thus, it is important to use language and ideas appropriate to your audience.
6. Assist retention. Associate new ideas with those already familiar to the listener. At regular intervals summarize the ideas you have mentioned. If necessary, write down the main points.
7. Encourage feedback. We all tend to overestimate our own accuracy as listeners. Furthermore, we tend to overestimate other people’s accuracy when they are listening to us. Without receiving feedback, we often think we have been understood when in fact we haven’t. To increase effective communication, periodically ask for questions and comments about what you have said. Without this, you will not know whether your message has been received as intended.This two-way communication will:
Allow you to amplify and adjust your message to the listener.
Allow you to correct misunderstandings.
Minimize the chance of distortion and deletion.
Increase ownership by the listener of what you are saying.


A leader’s ultimate success depends directly upon his effectiveness as a listener. Communication is a central part of leadership and listening is a large part of communication. Consequently, the leader who wishes to be effective in leading God’s people into the fulfillment of His purposes cannot be a passive, noninvolved listener.

Will you make a commitment now to work at this in your life and ministry? You have an ethical and spiritual responsibility to do so.

A willingness to listen ultimately reveals a true heart of love.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Our next Leadership Letter will begin a new series on how to choose emerging leaders.

Comments 1
  • Pastor Chestang
    Posted on

    Pastor Chestang Pastor Chestang

    Reply Author

    How about this? It’s a book in my class. This is a page from the book.
    Most of the reference books are Christian books.
    Praise God!