How to Listen with Rev. Joan Shiels

Throughout our lives people come to us in distress, saying they need someone to talk to about a difficult issue. We want to be helpful, but few of us know how to listen in a way that truly helps. We struggle for the right thing to say. But the truth is that most often it is usually the quality of our listening — and not the wisdom of our words — that provides the most help and comfort.  If that sounds easy, beware, it’s not. It takes knowledge and practice to be a good listener. Just like math or carpentry, good listening is a skill that has principles that can be learned.

The Rev. Joan Shiels spent a total of 12 years in two seminaries. Most of what she learned there was interesting but, she says, only ONE thing she learned in seminary really taught her how to help people in distress: how to listen.