Listening With Your Eyes

There is a time for everything…
a time to be silent and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b 

There are times to be silent. One of those times is when we are listening to others. However, even when our mouths are not communicating, our bodies are.

Seven-year-old Jenny came home from a birthday party and breathlessly began to spill out all of the details of the party to her mother. Mother continued peeling potatoes for supper while she listened to the account. Finally Jenny stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Mom you’re not listening!”

Mom reassured her, “Yes I am, I heard every word.”

“But Mom, you’re not listening with your eyes!”

Jenny needed to see that she had her mother’s full attention, but her mother was not providing that in her body language.

Listening is more than just hearing . It is involvement in what the person is saying. Here are five ways you can use body language to send positive messages to the person you are conversing with:

  • Maintain eye contact. Try not to glance away while the other person is talking.
  • Lean forward. This shows you are interested, not bored.
  • Open up your arms and body. Crossing your arms makes you look defensive and guarded.
  • Relax your body position. Avoid hunching your shoulders, swinging your leg, or tapping a pen.
  • Nod and smile. This gives visual clues that you are listening and the other person should continue speaking.

Even when we are quiet, our bodies can speak volumes. Use body language to signal your interest and empathy for your friends and family.