One of the most important parenting skills is to be a great listener. Why? Because, if you listen well, your kids will talk. The more they talk, the more they will reveal of what they are thinking and feeling. As Christian parents, what they say is even more vital, because it gives us clues how to strengthen their faith foundation and help mold their hearts towards God.
Yet, communication is one of the biggest struggles most parents face. Most of us have developed communication skills which are sloppy at best. In our defense, this is often because we had very little actual training in communication and default to what we picked up somehow along the way. Often these poor habits cause issues as we parent our children. The rifts they cause can become even greater as our kids reach their teen years.
So, I was really interested when offered the opportunity to review the new book How to Listen So People Will Talk by Becky Harling. This isn’t the first book on the topic. In fact, Amazon is filled with books with similar sounding titles and topics. I can’t speak to the others, but I loved this volume.
Harling does a very balanced job of taking basic good communication principles and interweaving them with scripture and “real life” stories. In fact, I loved that at the end of each chapter she provided questions and challenges for not only taking the principles and applying them to our listening habits with others, but also to ourselves and most importantly God.
The book covers nine basic principles from honoring another’s story to my personal favorite – quieting your inner fixer and more. Each chapter describes the negative behavior you might have (in case for some reason you haven’t recognized yourself in the description!) and then explains why a more positive behavior will encourage others to open up and talk more. She then gives practical advice for moving from any current negative patterns to more positive ones.
The advice she gives is practical and helpful. My only criticism (and I understand why she did it) was that it often seems as she believes we should always be the listener and never the one who is heard. I know that isn’t her intent, but at times it does come across as if we don’t ever have a right to vent when we are upset or overwhelmed and be heard ourselves. Ultimately, I think most readers will understand that we all have a need and a right to be truly heard at times – we just need to make sure everyone gets a turn and not just us!
This is a great book for those who may need a few gentle reminders to clean up some sloppy listening habits. I think it would also be very helpful to those who really struggle and have heard repeatedly “You aren’t listening!” It’s definitely one I will keep in my reference library and re-read regularly for listening “tune-ups”.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.