Pastor Tim Keller Of Redeemer Community Church recently tweeted,
True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) March 19, 2014
It seems that there are so few people who genuinely know how to take an interest in a person for longer than a minute or two, and stop talking about themselves. For 22 years as a pastor, and now as a coach, I have learned to listen, ask questions, push back, encourage and help people to work through issues. My move into coaching 10 years ago coaching was a natural transition because of that training.
Outside of my coaching relationships, I seldom interact with people who seem to have learned the kinds of skills that are necessary for developing real and deep friendships. Real friendships are mutually encouraging. Real friendships are not one sided with one person doing all of the giving, listening and encouraging. What would it be like to have a friend whose goal was to know you and encourage you? What if your goal was to listen radically in every conversation? It’s not too late for you to develop skills that produce real and deep friendships. Here are four steps toward that end:
1. Stop Talking about Yourself
Most of us like to talk about ourselves. But unless you are in the counselor’s office at least half of any given conversation should be asking questions about the other person’s interests and desires. There is little that is more life giving relationally than having a person take a deep interest in you. Offer this blessing to those you are in relationship with. In a real friendship, you are not only receiving but you are giving.
2. Learn to Ask Good Questions
Asking questions does not come naturally but you can learn to do it. Practice the art of asking questions. Commit to asking questions. Take an interest in the person that you are talking to. That person is amazing, creative and created in the image of God. Ask and listen and care.
3. Don’t Ask a Question and then Start Talking about Yourself Again
I see this almost every day! A person asks a question, gets a 10 second response, and then shifts back to what they want to talk about again. When you do this, you will stop a friendship from moving forward. Eventually, your friends will learn that your question isn’t genuine and will stop being real with you. Make a decision to focus on another person and not refocus on yourself.
4. Listen for a long time
Listening takes a while. Ask a question and listen. Ask a question and let the person talk. Don’t be afraid of silence now and then. Go a little deeper with your questions and listen. Help the person find a solution rather than jumping in and offering your own. You will completely revolutionize your relationships by living this out.
Try it and see what happens. When you are committed to this, I want to be friends with you.