Becoming a Better Listener

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014


Often when someone else is talking, we are either thinking of the next thing we want to say, or we are thinking of something else entirely. How can husbands be more present to our wives and our kids? Come learn techniques for really hearing others.


As the old saying goes, God gave us two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we talk. And yet, we tend to talk more than we listen. “Active listening” is not passive but helps us to focus on what the other person is saying. This makes the other person feel valued and helps strengthen our relationships with a spouse, child, co-worker, etc. Using methods of reflecting back the other’s feelings and statements, receiving and giving verbal and non-verbal cues, and waiting to respond are among the ways to improve your listening skills and creating stronger bonds with those who are important in your life.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 18:13

If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

2. Matthew 13:43

He who has ears, let him hear.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2604

The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.50 Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”

2. Paragraph 2716

Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.

Small Group Questions

1. Do you think you are a good listener? Would your wife and children agree?

2. Think of a specific situation from this week where you were in a conversation. How well did you listen?

3. Who do you know is an example of a great listener? What makes that person a great listener?

Recommended Resources

1. It’s Not About the Nail (video):

2. Active Listening is Not a Spectator Sport (Archdiocese of Detroit):

3. LISTEN techniques (video):

4. Reflective Listening (Archdiocese of Indianapolis):


1. In your next conversation this week with your wife or children, use one or more aspects of active or reflective listening.

2. This week ask your wife or children how you can be a better listener.

3. One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is understanding. Pray to the Holy Spirit this week to help you listen better in your daily conversations so as to gain greater understanding about the other person.


Pete Caccavari

Included Resources

Three qualities essential to deep listening
The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl, p. 16

Silence creates the space for listening to God. It provides time to explore our relationship to Source. The practice of being in this silence nurtures our capacity to listen to others.

Reflection gives us access to listening for our inner voice. The practice of taking a few breaths before responding to a situation, question, or comment gives time for your true wisdom to reveal itself. It’s a slowing down, waiting, practicing patience.

Presence is the awareness of listening to another, of connecting at the heart level. The practice of taking a mundane, ordinary activity and giving it your full attention, for example, washing your hands or brushing your teeth, trains your concentration and your ability to be in the present moment with another.

Listening and being assertive
Speak Up! Christian Assertiveness by Randolph K. Sanders and H. Newton Malony, p. 109

Again, knowing when to shut up is helpful because it means we believe other people’s ideas are just as important as our own. Notice we did not say that others’ ideas are necessarily more correct than ours. We said that others’ opinions are as important as our own. Listening to what they have to say does not mean we have to agree with them, only that we have to respect them. This is an important part of being assertive.

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