Listening: A Key Team Building Skill

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It just may be that the best way to make people feel truly honored is to listen to them with rapt and sincere attentiveness. Few practices are more meaningful than the person who will give you undivided attention; few oversights are more demeaning than when someone makes you feel that listening is an unwanted chore.

One reason some groups never turn into true teams is that they are never truly heard by the team leader. It is one thing to ask your team members questions; it is altogether another thing to truly listen to them. Really hearing your team involves deep listening or what some refer to as “reflective listening.” That means what some have called listening with the third ear.

One reason some groups never turn into true teams is that they are never truly heard by the team leader. It is one thing to ask your team members questions; it is altogether another thing to truly listen to them.

This kind of deep listening involves:

Eye contact. Not staring down a person, but setting your focus on their words and nonverbal clues as you listen; paying close attention, which is deeply affirming.

Verbal following. Using short and sincere words and phrases to assure the listener that you are not only tracking verbally but viscerally, as well. (“Yes” … “I see” … “mmm, hmm” … “all right” … “I follow you” … and so forth.)

Rapt posture. While you may not necessarily be on the edge of your seat over every word, make sure that you are poised for active listening and responding. Sitting up straight and even leaning slightly forward conveys attentiveness.

Follow-up questions. Some statements of your team members are intentionally laced with the hope that you will probe more fully into their thoughts, suggestions, and opinions. Using follow-up questions will help you to do so.


This material is excerpted from  The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon, 2012). The Teaming Church and used with the publisher’s permission.  The book is available from Amazon and Cokesbury. Used by permission.

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About Author

Robert C. Crosby is a communicator, a ministry leader, and writer. He is Professor of Practical Theology and previously served as a Vice President at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. He has written several books including More than a Savior and Living Life from the Soul.


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