Solid interpersonal relationships are built on commitment. The Christian’s salvation story itself exhibits this as God intentionally attended to the needs of his creation by sending Jesus to make atonement for sins, making a way of reconciliation. Listening is a way to show commitment in our relationships. It is such because when someone truly listens, they are attending to reality and focused on the other person despite all distractions. Christians today are so overwhelmed by constant messages pushing for our attention. Yet as we seek to build our relationships, we must focus on truths and situations that matter most.
A poor listener is rather easy to identify. It is someone who judges too quickly and harshly, sees reality only from their own limited viewpoint, responds thoughtlessly, or focuses on self-centered agendas. These actions may be the automatic response of some of us, but they do not foster good, life-giving relationships. Instead of showing understanding and care for others as healthy interpersonal relationships should, they focus on selfish or distracted thoughts and emotions that do not convey commitment to reality.
Instead of this destructive approach, Christians should seek to wholly listen, first by attending to God then by attending to others. First, we should attend to God by acknowledging the reality of things that he has revealed in Scripture. Next, in light of God’s revealed Word we should attend to others, seeking shared understanding and connection. For example attending to the reality that God loves us by not only acknowledging it but having a heart of gratitude and acting upon that truth, we are better able to love others because we can attend to their needs with a more holistic vision.
To practice listening: commit to listen to both God and others, patiently stay in the moment, remain sympathetic and empathetic, show that you are listening by smiling or summarizing back to the person what they have said, and attend to both the content of what someone is saying and the relational meanings and emotions that they are conveying.
As humans we are always trying to make sense of situations and messages. Listening is just the intentional way of committing to focus on the person and truly understand the reality of the situation, bringing it to bear on your interpersonal relationships.
Schultze, Quentin. Badzinski, Diane : An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication, chapter 2