When interacting with people, whether it be in an informal conversation or in a more formal context, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to say next. The conversation can dry up and there is an awkward silence. But never forget there is a general rule to guide you and that is that most people are happy to talk about themselves, their experiences and their views.
So simply asking questions like “What do you think?” or “what has brought you to this point in life?” can be so important in seeking to develop a meaningful conversation. This is enhanced when you are able to ask questions which continue to nudge the conversation along in a mutually beneficial way.
Two things must be mentioned here though:-
- Learn to listen. In listening you hear where the other person is at. In listening you learn how you might be able to help the other person. This also means not butting in unnecessarily. The adage of James is good to implement: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19). It is also good to remember that you have been given two ears and one mouth. As a general rule, keeping that proportion in the operation of our hearing and speaking is good.
- Love. All this is meaningless stuff unless there is love. Asking questions for the sake of it, is empty and the other person is soon likely to discern your insincerity. But love puts the other person first. Love wants their best! And so love listens. Love does not just want to be heard, but wants the other person to be heard.
Finally, if you are an elder (or involved in any caring ministry) then it is essential to your ministry to be able to listen well.