Three Ways to Speak Less and Listen Better

church leadership Jul 15, 2014

Not long after we were married, my wife told me I was using “preacher voice” with her and she really wished I would just have a normal conversation. I asked her what she meant by “preacher voice.” She told me that when I start talking I sometimes default into giving a mini-sermon about the topic. I use a slightly louder voice and get kind of preachy. We had a good laugh about it, but it made me think about how that comes across to others.

She also told me that it is hard to interject because I go on and on without stopping. Her theory is that because I teach and preach a lot I have trained myself to talk continuously without pause.

This “skill” is useful in preaching, but it can be detrimental to your interpersonal relationships. One-sided conversations are no fun. Not only that, but if all you do is talk and never listen to others, your actual sermons become void of the meaningful depth you get from interacting with humanity.

So, these are three things I have done in my marriage relationship (and any other relationship I have) to help this affliction of mine. They have been great for me. You should give it a try:

1. Ask more questions. A conversation is a great opportunity to see into the life of someone else. To gain insight. To empathize. I’ve found that asking questions helps to put me fully in the conversation rather than let my mind drift to other things.

2. Intentionally pause long enough for someone else to interject. I make a point of just shutting up long enough to invite interaction.

3. Listen well enough to give meaningful feedback. Don’t just wait until someone has finished saying what they’re saying so you can say something better than what they just said. That’s not a conversation, that’s a tennis match.

These three practices have helped not only my marriage but also my preaching. I’m a better preacher when I have listened well and understand where others are coming from. More on how to listen well, especially to what people say about your preaching, in this article.

Want more content to help you hone your sermon preparation and delivery skills? Check out my new book: Preaching Killer Sermons: How to Create and Deliver Messages that Captivate and Inspire.

In what ways do you default to “preacher voice” in normal conversations? What are some other ways to listen better?


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