I find that in difficult conversations listening to the other person is often complicated. I often discover that instead of listening, I am preparing, in my mind, for how I want to respond. What would happen to our conversations if we started really listening to each other rather than preparing our responses?

Several years ago I was introduced to an amazing tool to help me listen better. This tool has become a staple amongst our staff team. We aptly refer to it as “SWIHYSI”: ‘So what I hear you saying is…‘ In any conversation, instead of responding with what I think, I respond by restating another’s thoughts and begin speaking with, ‘so what I hear you saying is…’

Restating what you hear is a profound way to show that you are listening, and also provides an opportunity for the person speaking to know that she/he is being heard.

Jesus was the master at restating what people were communicating. I’m reminded of his encounter with a women at a well in John 4.  He restated her comments and it started a spiritual interaction that brought about her conversion.

I would challenge all of us: the next time you are in a conversation with someone, take three simple steps:

  1. Listen closely to what the other person in communicating.
  2. Stop thinking about what you are going to say.
  3. SWIHYSI” the other person. Respond to him (or her) by restating his/her thoughts as you heard them.

This simple tool will have a massive impact in our abilities to listen, communicate and live together in unity.


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