Pets, particularly the doggy type, are well known to be therapeutic. Have you ever wondered why?
One of the most appreciated gifts is to listen. Dogs are really good at this.
At the sound of our voice they stop what they are doing, gaze into our eyes and give us their full attention (usually). They have great listening skills.
Many of our daily problems can be alleviated by a “good listening to”.
Good listening is not passive, it’s active, it’s work.
In scripture it says-
Be quick to listen… James1 v.19
Let the wise hear… Prov.1 v.5
Listen before you answer… Prov.18 v.13-15
The best way to understand people is to listen carefully to them.
HOW TO LISTEN CAREFULLY
Switch off your phone, iPad, television, close your book and turn to face them, maintaining gentle eye contact.
Be attentive, relaxed, and give them time without interrupting.
Have an open mind, don’t judge or jump to conclusions.
Concentrate. Remember key words and phrases. When there’s a pause reflect back, ask open questions (those that don’t require just a yes or a no).
Practise empathy by putting yourself in their shoes, look with their eyes.
Give them feedback such as “you must have been so worried”, or “mmm”.
You do not have to fix their problem.
The body communicates too - words only convey a fraction of the message. Note their composure and facial expressions.
There is a moving scene in the film,’ The Horse Whisperer’.
Tom is hired to help a traumatised girl, Grace, and her horse, back to health following a tragic accident. For a long time Grace is resistant to help, but eventually finds the courage and trust to open up to Tom and tell him about the accident. It’s evening and Tom is in his cabin the radio is on and he’s cooking his supper, the door opens and Grace quietly enters, she sits down and begins to speak. Tom turns off the radio and the stove and he gently sits down at the table with her. He listens… and the healing begins.
There is great power in just listening…. a smile, a nod, a kind word…. and sometimes all we need do is to say less and pray more.