About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. Lisa-Jo,
    This is something the Lord has really convicted my heart about as well. One way that helps me is to go back to real basics. The first greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The second is to love others as you love yourself. If we become as infatuated with others as much or more than we are infatuated with ourselves we choose to listen to them first and think of ourselves last. The acronym JOY – Jesus, Others, You…helps me remember the order in which our lives (my life) should flow. It continues to be a daily challenge to revive the lost art of listening…here’s to journeying together! Much needed post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I really love that acronym JOY I’ve never heard that before but I’ll definitely use that in the future!

    • Bev, that is a useful acronym, JOY! Thank you for sharing. Lisa-Jo, good quality solid Christian writing, even on an online blog format.

  2. Powerful message….thank you for sharing….I will take this to heart….I have found myself hearing my friends words….having and feeling empathy and then sharing my own story…..my heart was thinking that if they heard my story they wouldn’t feel so isolated….they would know someone had been where they are…..now I will empathize with my heart and ears……thank you again…..Blessings!!!

    • Hey there Angie,

      Right – that’s where I always start as well. But I began wondering if I’d left enough space between their stories and mine to make sure they felt heard – so I’m working on taking a beat to make sure I listened all the way to the end and asked some follow ups before launching into my own 🙂

  3. Thanks for the tips!!! Texting has definitely taught me to “listen” first… I still end up writing “me me me” in the response, but thankfully, I usually catch myself and delete it!!! Then I’ll focus on “them” again… Practicing that in real life would be helpful- but as mama to littles— well, you know how that goes 🙂

    • Oh smart – I hadn’t thought about how texting helps reveal where we’re at in our responses. I’ll be paying closer attention to that now too. Thanks!

  4. Ugh. I do this with my husband all the time. Also at his parent’s house because I’m insecure there. I’m formulating responses before they finish their sentences. This is a great reminder that I am missing out on truly getting to know someone when I’m more concerned about what I want to say or how my words will be perceived. Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

    • It’s hard, isn’t it Paige? Especially when we feel insecure. I’m trying to teach myself to spend my thoughts formulating follow up questions instead of my own responses. It’s made a difference in how I approach conversations for sure.

  5. Great reminder. I used to be a better listener, but I think I get too preoccupied with my list of duties and jobs. The other day I told my daughter she needs to learn not to interrupt so much and just listen. And then God graciously opened my eyes to how often I interrupt my husband and kids. It’s so cool how the Lord reminds us from many different directions, “this is the truth you need to address right now.” Thank you.

  6. Lisa-Jo,
    Thank you for sharing your recent experience and how you pulled it into such a meaningful message. I’m often overjoyed to read posts like these and then also disappointed at how beautifully and powerfully so many of you writers can put this one critical topic into such beautiful words, yet I am unable to follow through and live as if I really understand the importance. I mean not even once. I don’t even stop and listen better that same day or that same hour for that matter.

    As my oldest turned 11 yrs old last week, I realized I have only 7 short years left with her before she potentially goes off to college. That made me wince at how poorly I have listened to her and how desperately I want to turn that around. I am in a situation where I am now a single mom of 3, stressed and tired, too often not listening and instead snapping at my kids out of my own lack of setting up adequate boundaries to get everything in place each day with time for myself. I need to hear your message to the point where I truly can make changes to see this through. What is worse is that their father is very good at listening and empathizing, and it is hard to feel I am holding their lives together and they open up to him instead of me. (Not at all intending to diminish his role – I am grateful for the relationship he has with the kids.)

    I think I will print your blog today and put it up where I’ll see it everyday! :o)
    With blessings and gratitude,
    Sara

    • Sara, I facilitate a class and part of it is teaching communication, and I most certainly have not arrived….Give yourself some grace; I hear your disappointment with yourself in your falling short of the listening you’d like to do with your kids. I hear your heart desire to want to listen to your children especially by your comment of you daughter turning 18 in 7 short years and could go off to college without you developing the communication and the listening you deep down want to have with her. You are actively seeking to do something about your situation by printing the blog and putting up where you can see it. This is taking the first step in learning how to do this for yourself and your kids. This takes practice, and you will get better at this. You will have your own unique way of responding to your kids. Seek God asking Him to make you aware of your thoughts, your listening, and your words. Because relationships and you are important to Him, and you are loved by Him, He will help you. Blessings, Joanne

  7. Eek, I even do this to my KIDS! They say “mommy, you interrupted me” when I finish their sentences. Time to work on keeping my mouth shut long enough to actually LISTEN well.

    • LeeAnn, I’ve had to stop myself from interrupting too. Too often I think I know where they’re going with their comments, and I hurt their feelings when I cut them off. I’m working on listening before I speak, even with them. 🙂

  8. Lisa-Jo, the picture of you and Emily on your blog is beautiful! You are both so pretty!

    As for this post, listening and not interrupting is something I have to work on all the time. A few years ago I read that when we interrupt it is like telling the person speaking what you have to say is more important than what they are saying. When I remember that, I do better.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  9. My hubby and I will sometimes discuss beforehand (if we are meeting up with friends for dinner, or something) whether or not this is going to be a listening or a talking time with them…if we feel like we need to be listening, we work hard to remind each other subtly throughout the evening that this night is about our friends – not us. I have loved this, as we have gotten to know our friends so much better over the years!

  10. Oh boy, Lisa-Jo: convicted by this big time. Thank you for posting this. And yes, it really is an act of self-defense for me, which really shows me how deeply love idols (seeking love and affection, even our self-worth, from others) can become rooted in us.

    As part of my therapy journey, I had to note down what turns me back into the happy carefree child and do you know what I discovered: it’s in moments I am calm enough, confident enough, relaxed enough to observe and listen to God and others, especially my little girls. So really, the more we become children of the Most High God, the more our hearts rest in Him, the more we become able to give to and bless others through the love we have received from God. Just love Bev’s acronym, as this really sums it all up. Now to act upon the conviction!

  11. This is so good, Lisa-Jo. For me, it’s as simple as the Golden Rule. I need to listen how I would like to be listened to. Easy to say, much harder to do!

  12. Lisa-Joy,

    You’ve touched on the material Dr John S. Savage teaches on communication. His life ministry is listening skills and communication. He teaches how vital communication is to our relationships and to the church body. So, so true. When people are truly listened to and acknowledged actively that what they said is important, and are understood by our active listening and follow-up, as you said, they feel loved and important. I also know this can alleviate future misunderstandings and helps avoid and resolve conflict. Even though I know this in my head, it’s a different story me practicing doing this sort of deep and active listening regularly and making this deliberate choice more active in my head and my heart. Thank you for this reminder to seek to do this loving on people by my listening.

    Blessings,

    Joanne

  13. Oh, how I LOVED this post. I’ve been the guilty party in the not-really-listening conversations. And I always feel dumb when I blurt out my words and realize (too late) that my words were either 1) all about me, or 2) missed the mark of the conversation.

    I’m working to not interrupt when someone speaks. My husband’s taught me much on this. I’m also working on inviting Jesus into the conversation, at least in my thought-prayers. There are times when I need His discernment to know when to say something and when to stay quiet. And in knowing what to say. When I practice truly listening, I often find Jesus gives me the words my friend needs to hear.

    Thanks for the reminder of the importance of listening, Lisa-Jo. Your tips are spot-on.

  14. I feel the most heard when I tell my husband how I feel and he looks at me without saying a word and wraps his arms around me. No words. As a quiet listener myself, I often find it hard to tell people how I feel. It’s hard to get the words out. So if someone breaks in at a pause, I’m pretty much shut down. You will go away feeling like I’m your friend, but I will probably go away feeling isolated and alone. Friends that listen are precious and few.

    • Sarah, I understand your frustration. I too am the listener in my family and with friends. It’s a great gift to have, but often people get off the phone or have to leave by the time I have an opportunity to respond. On the other hand, I’ve created a bad habit of just talking over people until they stop to listen. I know, so bad. It seems all my friends and my mother are super talkers and unless they take a breath, I fear I won’t be heard. I’m learning to balance when I need to be heard or when I just want to be heard.

      When it comes to my children I tend to keep cleaning or doing whatever task needs completing while they talk to me. But my son will say, “I’ll wait for you, Mom.” And that stops me in my tracks.

      I wonder how many times the Lord has tried to communicate with me, but I’m too busy, too busy doing good and necessary things? Then something causes me to simply stop and listen, to be still, and know that He is God.

  15. As a counselor and life coach, I do a lot of listening. But, when I get together with my friends, I must turn that switch off or something. Maybe I think, “Since I do all that listening already, It’s my turn to be listened too!” Ha! I definitely need to remember this and give my friends the listening ear they need too. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. Sweet friend, this is brilliant and beautiful and so so needed in our relationships. Thank you for speaking truth so gently and still with urgency. I agree. I am convicted. I am in hope that in times where I need it, this can be where I am met. More importantly, I am in hope that I can take this into every conversation – living out the love for which I am free, sharing that with another.

  17. Lovely post Jo. I wish I had friends like you guys here where we could discuss these sorts of questions but with a Jesus spin on it, looking at the world through his eyes. I feel so detached from my younger Christian life. I always come back to here to Incourage it is my only fellowship. I want to hear the Holy Spirit again and actually know what Gods plan is for me and feel that connection again, but how do I get there?

  18. I love this so much! Just so much! In one of my small groups, we practiced listening to each other and each woman had five uninterrupted minutes to talk about whatever she wanted. When she was done, we each went around the room and told her what we heard – both in her actual words, and in what was less obvious… no one gave her advice or tried to solve a problem or one up her with their own story! Every single woman in that group said that they hadn’t felt that listened to, that heard. and that loved, in a very long time! Listening is such a privilege and an honor… it’s a gift both given and received! But oh how often we can forget this! I just adore you, friend!

  19. Lisa-Jo
    Such a powerful post on important topic. God commands us to treat others as we want to be treated. Everyone wants to be heard-thus we need to learn the art of listening! “Listening is the most powerful gift we can give a friend”. Also in listening-really listening we can learn a lot about people and show them how much we care!
    Blessings 🙂

  20. Thanks for the article Lisa-Jo. I am mentoring a new teacher in our district and there was a chapter in our mentoring book about listening. It was a pretty obvious “Do you ACTUALLY listen?” chapter, but I found myself relating to some of their points.