The Power of Gracious Listening in an Ungracious World

via Bill Peel
September 23rd, 2015

Our willingness to listen and receive input from others sends a powerful message: I care what you think; you have something valuable to contribute. When we ask questions and listen with focused attention and a humble spirit, we invite trust and cooperation in business and personal relationships. 

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. 

—James 1:19

Consider these suggestions for gracious listening:

  • Face the person who is speaking to you and maintain eye contact. Don’t look out the window or scan the room. Put aside papers, cell phone, and other distractions.
  • Listen without judging or mentally criticizing the speaker. And do not jump to conclusions. Let the speaker finish, and ask for clarification about things you question before you respond.
  • When listening to someone talk about a problem, do not interrupt with advice or solutions. Many times, people need a sounding board, not an answer. Wait a while, then get the speaker’s permission to share your idea or solution.
  • Show empathy through your facial expressions. This demonstrates genuine concern for what the speaker is saying. 
  • Greet someone in the hall by saying, “How are you?” Stop and sincerely listen to the response.
  • Ask meaningful questions about things that are important to others and actively listen to what they say.
  • Listen for the aspirations and fears of others. Pray that God will show you appropriate ways to encourage them.
  • Actively seek to understand rather than win an argument. You could easily win the fight but lose the war.
  • Focus on understanding the speaker, not on calculating your rebuttal.
  • Create safe space for people to disagree with you by listening to criticism without blowing up.

This is the third article of a four-part series on communicating grace in the workplace:

Excerpt from Workplace Grace. Learn more about Workplace Grace here and purchase online at